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Songs for Swinging Larvae (1981)

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Click any underlined track for a 30-second, 64kbps MP3 sample

1.) Lime Jelly Grass
2.) A Medical Man
3.) Bali Whine
4.) Kimbolton Gnome Song
5.) Frass
6.) N2O (Going Under)
7.) B.P.M.
8.) Spratt's Medium
9.) Honest Joe's Indian Gets the Goat on the Way to the Cowboys' Conga
10.) Ow! Stew the Red Shoe
11.) Bustle the Burgoo
12.) Is Guava a Donut?
13.) A Sob Story
14.) Hats Off, Gentlemen!
15.) Renaldo's Trip to Venice
16.) Ted's Reverie

(Original LP) Side 1: tracks 1-9; Side 2: tracks 10-16

Release Info:

LP: Ralph Records RL-8108 (out of print)
LP: Do It Records RIDE 6
CD: T. E. C. tones 90802
CD: Reissued in 2013 with bonus content

Renaldo's CD Liner Notes:

Welcome to the days of early Renaldo & the Loaf. Renaldo (Brian Poole) and Ted the Loaf (Dave Janssen) hail from Portsmouth, England. After collaborating for a number of years, it was in 1977 that we discovered a music that excited us. To us it was a music with direction in uncertainty, with a strange coherence in ambiguity. Noise experiments seemed to distill into songs, and the recordings on this disc bear witness to the odd events that resulted in Songs for Swinging Larvae, the first full LP to be revealed to the world.

It is true to say that a previous, tape-only album (Renaldo & the Loaf play Struvé & Sneff) did see local, Portsmouth release and it was that tape that ultimately secured us a recording deal with Ralph Records in 1981. Two tracks from that period - 'Bathroom Song' and 'Metro Stomp' - are included on this disc as a taster. 'Melvyn's Repose' was recorded especially for the Ralph sampler Frank Johnson's Favorites and is contemporary with the Larvae sessions.

Made by chance and ruled by dice, Larvae can guide you through playful music of abandon, laid, hatched and recorded exclusively in a bedroom studio. Pursuing a weird medical/insect fetish, these songs saw us happily abusing our tape machines, plundering the hardware store, honing our scalpels and continuing to revel in the game of making conventional instruments sound synthetic. Invention is born out of necessity, as, at that time, we could not afford synthesizers anyway.

Renaldo & the Loaf never had a definable attitude as we said at the time; no great philosophies, no political stance, just a want to think sideways, enjoy ourselves and hope some others might enjoy it too. Not afraid to be ridiculous and not afraid of ridicule. So, welcome one and all, feel free to smile at our history. I believe in bugs, do you?

- Brian 1990


Dave: The title is just a play on Songs for Swinging Lovers. The fascination with insects came about because I studied entomology as part of my degree. The world of insects seems quite strange and different to our world – insects can see into the ultraviolet, some have ears on their front legs, they have bizarre life cycles. It’s endlessly fascinating.

Brian: Ralph also asked us to prepare a single to go with the Larvae album, it was to be released a couple of weeks beforehand. The A side was to be Medical Man / N2O (Going Under), the B side, Post Mortem. We even sent some artwork for it (now lost) but the project was shelved of course.

Dave: The album was moderately well-received, the reviews were pretty mixed. Some reviewers hated it whilst others were more well disposed towards it. I remember that one reviewer who gave it 3 stars out of 5 later told us that he’d only listened to it once before he wrote the review and that, after listening to it some more realized that it was a lot better than he’d originally thought. Still, that probably happens quite often given the number of albums a reviewer has to listen to in a week.

1.) Lime Jelly Grass
Brian: I remember Dave explaining to me that he had a memory of being very young and of a birthday treat his Mum prepared for him...a chocolate blancmange rabbit surrounded by lime jelly grass.

5.) Frass
Dave: It’s the scientific term for the feces of insect larvae. Not a lot of people know that.

6.) N2O
Dave: N2O is nitrous oxide, laughing gas, the anaesthetic. I had quite vivid memories of going to the dentist as a child and having teeth extracted under gas. I used to love the strange dreamlike state of going under the gas and N2O was an attempt to recreate how that sounded. The words are taken from ‘Reveries of the Solitary Walker’ by Rousseau with a lot of the words substituted by randomly chosen words from the dictionary. This was then recorded with Brian speaking the text. The tape was then cut up, reversed, the order of parts of words changed so that the text got more and more confused and disorganised, a bit like the process of going under the gas.

8.) Spratts Medium
Brian: For no logical reason this track was named after a brand of British dog food.
It was named after a type of dog biscuit. It was probably mentioned somewhere in Endgame by Samuel Beckett because that's where the words came from.

12.) Is Guava A Donut?
Dave: Brian had this game with a number of dice, which had words, rather than numbers on each face. The idea was to throw them and make an amusing sentence. ‘Is Guava a Donut’ was a sentence produced in this way. As a sentence it’s obviously quite absurd and meaningless. I thought it would be interesting to work backwards to something that had meaning – sort of Chinese whispers in reverse. So that gave us the sentence ‘Is Dover a seaport?’ That then became the starting point for a series of increasingly bizarre questions, ending with ‘Is Guava a Donut?’

14.) Hats Off Gentlemen
Dave: This is a series of loops taken from a Debussy piano piece called The Drowned Cathedral, this, like ‘Renaldo’s trip to Venice’ was just a tape experiment. The title is taken from The Plague by Albert Camus. There’s a character in the novel who is writing a book himself. He’s very painstaking and fastidious about his writing and wants it to be perfect. Consequently he’s only written a sentence so far, and it’s taken months. When it’s finished he wants everybody to say ‘Hats off gentlemen’

Album artwork original sketches :

These were 'studies' done by Gary Panter for the cover of Songs for Swinging Larvae.

Click any sketch to view a larger version.

The music video:

In 1981, The Residents produced a video for Renaldo and the Loaf's Songs for Swinging Larvae featuring Spratt's Medium, Lime Jelly Grass, and Melvyn's Repose. It was directed by Graeme Whifler.

Renaldo - "As far as I know the Larvae 'video' was the first one to make a short film/promo out of multiple tracks . Sure enough, the Residents had done linked short videos (One Minute Movies, The Commercial Album) and a musical (Vileness Fats) but nothing like this. The project was discussed when we visited San Francisco in 1981. At the time, Dave and I suggested using Is Guava A Donut?, with a little boy annoying the grown-up. This must have sparked the later suggestion from the Ralph crowd to base it around a true abduction story from the newspapers at that time. Nowadays such things freak people, but then it was not such a disturbing thing, the story had a happy ending and no-one was hurt. The track list was discussed and we were consulted by post as filming went on. We suggested the backwards filming bits for example. I think the project took some time. When we saw it, we were impressed but knew it would be controversial, but such things get you noticed.

"Certain scenes, though creative, are now very touchy (the abduction, kiddy wrapped in ropes, handcuffs, bathing bit, the suggestion the kid is being abused in some way). The kiddy was about four when the filming was done. His mum was there all the time, and though on one occasion he seems to cry (hair dying scene) he thought the experience was fun. The second boy who crawls in and tells him how to escape was his brother."

Here are some screenshots from the video (mouse-over the numbers to view different shots):

1- 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9

Check out the video on YouTube!

Video Release History:
1981 - 16mm film Ralph Records Films

Click for larger versions

"The typed label is the original Ralph one. The other label was stuck on by Doublevision who had borrowed the reel to transfer to video for TV Wipeout. We went to a Cabaret Voltaire gig in Bournemouth (not too far from Portsmouth) to collect it from them before the show hence the Brian Poole +3 which ensured we got on the guestlist."

1984 - TV Wipeout (VHS) - Doublevision (UK) DV4
One of the first video magazines, RatL's contribution is followed by an interview with David Bowie!

1987 - Video Voodoo Vol 1 (VHS) - Palace Video PPS2025

1997 - 20 Framed Beats (VHS)- Mouthy (UK) 004
A locally-produced compilation of film/videos by Portsmouth bands. The version of Larvae on this has been censored by the compilers who were nervous of some of the content. The music is intact but sections of the film are repeated in odd places to cut out certain 'difficult' scenes - the effect is very strange!

2001 - Icky Flix (DVD) - Residents EuroRalph/Indigo.
Featuring the Residents cover versions of the 3 RatL tracks.


Renaldo M.: Guitar, mandolin, bouzouki, drums, flocdrum, glockenspiel, bamboo, diverse percussives, Ted's metal comb, loop to "Sob Story," and voice.

Ted The Loaf: Guitar, clarinet, loops, scalpel wielding, prepared guitar, hacksaw blade, bass on "Gnome Song," and additional percussion on "Ow! Stew the Red Shoe."

Written and Produced by Renaldo & The Loaf

Recorded at Odd times at Sneff's Surgery Between Nov. 79 and Nov. 80

All transformations realized without the use of synthesizers or juvenile hormone.

Cover concept: Renaldo and The Loaf
Cover Art: Gary Panter
Art Direction: Rex Ray
A Rotcod Production

All songs written by Renaldo & the Loaf and published by Pale Pachyderm Pub BMI except where noted

Website designed by Alex Wroten