Artist: Toxic Chicken
Title: Room 9 in Wonderland
Label: Dog Park Records
Keywords: experimental Perth WITCHFORK
You may remember back in 2016 when we all went to Toxic Chicken’s Alice in Wonderland Tea Party, there was lots of teacups and teaspoons and a confused Victorian girl. We are wondering what type of land this new release will be, an 80s Erasure-style synthpop ‘Wonderland’ with an undercurrent of foreboding: “There’s something going on, Something not quite right, There’s something strange, Happening to me”? How do we find Room 9, and what lays behind the door? We approach a big house and wander the halls, looking for the magic number. The walls play music to us and it is getting louder so we know we are getting closer. Here it is! There is a cubbyhole on the right of the door to put your shoes in, and a cubbyhole on the left full of painted wooden shoes. There is one labelled ‘The Doll’ and inside are the most beautiful clogs in the world, covered in hearts and flowers and spades (playing card spades and gardening spades) – they are perfect for me! Can you see your cubbyhole, what is painted on your shoes? Quick, put them on and let’s enter ‘Room 9 in Wonderland’.
Wow! It’s so bright in here, colours on the walls and the ceilings, and in the middle of it all standing beneath a skull-shaped disco ball is our host, the poisonous poultry themselves! They spread their great plumed arms and greet us, head bobbing back and forth to the music. Until you see them come towards us, you had forgotten how chooks must move their heads in order to take a step. It’s addictive and soon we are all bouncing our heads and a bass has started contorting out of the hidden speakers. Lights flash and we are all Rising Up and slumping down, Rising Up and slumping down, we can’t stop ourselves.
But what is this? The chicken had disappeared for a few seconds into another doorway, and now is back riding a toy pony on wheels and blasting the sounds of ‘Bible Bike Techno’ into our ears. The pony has bells around their neck, one that bleeps like an alarm clock, one like a cow bell, one a tiny plinkyplonky piano. Our feathered friend gets off and offers us a ride: “You, yes you, with the black-neck ducks on your shoes, jump on!” The pony starts spinning around and then moving back and forth, it has become a bucking bronco! Hold on tight my friend! The song is getting frantic, the pony moving so fast as we watch in horror… but it’s ok things are calming down now, just like a fairground ride there’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s just for thrills.
In fact, I’ve only just noticed that there is a machine to check in and to check out just like in old factories – everyone, you must put your time card in the machine! We are in “A place that I don’t understand, with rules and regulations, lots of them, bureaucratic bullshit” and the bleeps and bloops of red tape are all around us. A long corridor has opened up and we march through it, ducking to avoid protuberances coming out from the walls. Look out under your feet, there are pot holes and trip wires, Wonderland is a little bit dangerous and hard to navigate!
Phew, we made it through to the kitchen! As you would expect, there is a tape player and a stack of Kitchen tapes, ‘Patatten’ is just finishing. We chose a tape labeled ‘Toxic Chicken and Furchick – morning after’ which we know is going to be a Total Banger, we love all chickys whether they are poisonous or fluffy! The tap is running, filling up the sink and the dishes dance in and out of the soapy waterfall, cleaning and rinsing themselves. Seagulls fly past the window with chicken & chips in their claws. Don’t worry, these aren’t dead cooked chickens, no one eats their friends in Wonderland! The chicks are lost and being taken home to their families. The chips are, of course, for the seagulls picnic party. There are Nine of them, and after they deliver their charges back to the hen house they settle in the park (we can see it through the kitchen window, we are very high up and have a Bird’s Eye View!). You would expect there to be a feeding frenzy but this is not at all the case, the seagulls politely wait until everyone is ready to eat and make sure each of them has enough tomato sauce before they start. We smile and turn back to the room, where the oven is being opened and a cake decorated in cherries with the words ’13 euro cent’ is waiting fore us. Our host (somehow) has put oven mitts on over their wings and takes out the cake.
They lead us through another door and we find a big table with everything you could desire laid out upon it. The cake is placed in the centre and plates passed around. There is a boy who is called Crow sitting at the table and his eyes light up at the sight of the dessert. What’s happening now?! Crow has climbed onto the table and somehow shrunk himself and climbed into the cake! He is truly inside Wonderland now, buried deep in the sticky layers and clinging crumbs. Will he ever escape? Stay tuned in for more news from Room 9, anything can happen in a place like this.