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Carole Caroompas (b. 1946)
Target Practice (1982, Yoga Records)
Carole Caroompas was already an established painter when she began devising performances to compliment her paintings full of text and collage.
Target Practice is a cycle of eight songs first performed by Caroompas late 1981 at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, and again at various galleries over the following year. Standing in front of an elaborate wall full of diagrammatic images and text that resembled one of her paintings blown up to wall size, she sang along to a prerecorded soundtrack of Casio notes, metronomes and handclaps, found sounds, and multiple tracks of her own voice. With no stage to look down from and no microphone to amplify her voice, she captivated audiences with an mix of song and spoken interludes about the history of archery and the scientific discoveries of Archimedes. Each song begins with the sound of arrows hitting a target, one after another. It's not pop music.
Caroompas produced 250 copies of the album with silkscreened covers and paste-on colored feathers. The songs -- chants really -- are mostly about relationships, desire, power, bad boys, and communication or lack thereof. Carole will kill me for saying this, but it's almost as if the 70s Joni Mitchell SSW (singer-songwriter) tradition crash landed in the LA art scene, with her strange effects and sarcastic putdowns as cover for the more personal, conventional thrust of the work. In my favorite track, 'The Baby-Classic,' Caroompas directly, beautifully confronts her disappointments as a woman / artist / lover:
I had great expectations about almost everything (counting 1234)
And I had high ideals for almost anything (1234)
And I thought things could be perfect once you paid your dues (1234)
But most of all, I had great expectations about you (1234).
Caroompas creatively finds entertaining new ways to tell old stories about romantic life in the big city. The album is sincere and funny, and never too hip for its own good. It's hard not to like a record that starts with the artist telling the leering men who harass her on her way to her studio on Hollywood Boulevard: "Eat shit and die, you leaky dick."