Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Read this: A look into Viggo Mortensen and Buckethead's collaborative albums

Illustration for article titled Read this: A look into Viggo Mortensen and Bucketheads collaborative albums
Photo: Left: Matt Winkelmeyer/ Right: C. Flanigan (Getty Images)

Viggo Mortensen is an actor best known for his starring roles in fantasy epic The Lord Of The Rings and gritty dramas like The Road and Eastern Promises. Buckethead is a musician best known for playing guitar really fast and wearing a KFC bucket on his head. Despite these apparent differences in their careers, Mortensen and Buckethead are also creative soulmates responsible for a number of albums including one called Pandemoniuminamerica with guest appearances from Elijah Wood and Noam Chomsky.

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The duo’s defining work, released in 2002, is the subject of an important piece of pop culture history from Flood Magazine. As the article tells us, Pandemoniuminamerica is just one of Mortensen and Buckethead’s many albums together (they’ve released six LPs). As Flood puts it, the record is “forty minutes” of “bizarre instrument choices,” readings from William Blake, Jonathan Swift, and Rumi, Mortensen’s “floating falsetto,” and a series of “apocalyptic” tracks that fade in and out to a “nearly identical ambient moan as if we’re entering yet another level of hell.”

Nearly every Lord Of The Rings hobbit is represented on the album: Billy Boyd contributes “bass and percussion on a few tracks,” Elijah Wood plays piano, and Dominic Monaghan is credited, likely as one of the people supplying “spectral groaning” throughout the songs. (We assume Sean Astin’s schedule was all booked up at the time.) Mortensen sings and supplies “harmonica, something called the ‘lesliemonica,’ and, even more inexplicably, the wheelchair.” Chomsky shows up to read from his “Cuba On Paper.” Buckethead plays guitar.

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The two haven’t put anything out since 2011's Reunion, but both have continued on their own solo paths ever since, Mortensen releasing an LP called Godzilla Sleeps Alone in 2018. Considering how fruitful their partnership’s been to date, we imagine it’s only a matter of time until they get back together again.

Read the entire article for more details on Pandemoniuminamerica and to just reflect a little while on what it would be like to hang out in a studio with Mortensen, Buckethead, and the hobbitses as they groan into microphones and discuss political theory and poetry.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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