Tuesday, June 3, 2008

(not quite) black metal day

Suicide - The Second Album
I set out to have a black metal day but I'm not quite up to full raging contact with the Abyss yet this morning, so I'm easing into sonic annihilation. Suicide has always struck me as such a weird band, working their noir vibe through so much sparseness. In fact, I was rather convinced that I didn't much like them until I heard (Come/Codeine member) Chris Brokaw's cover of "I Remember" and it was glorious. I actually like his version better - the incessant acoustic guitar drives home the obsessive theme better than a synth does, maybe because the guitar seems closer to the human heartbeat, though arguably, electronic circuitry operating on autopilot is precisely how the heart actually works. Maybe that's what always bugged me about Suicide (and maybe "suicide" in general); that they've tapped into some truths about humanity that I just didn't want to accept. Maybe I've been looking at the wrong Abyss all this time.

The Gun Club - Mother Juno

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds - Philosophy and Underwear
No Fire of Love is this phoenix of the Gun Club discography/mythology, but its a tight record that should defend my claim of Kid Congo Powers being perhaps the defining guitarist of the underground 80's. The Bad Seeds, The Cramps, The Gun Club and probably a couple others I've forgotten about have all benefited by Congo sticking his fork in the amp input and channeling the shock. I got to interview him twice a while back (here and here) on the Spanish heels of his exquisite Philosophy and Underwear record.

Brainiac - Hissing Pigs in Static Couture
I know people who know a thing or two that swear by Brainiac. I'm not sure I'm sold. There is a lot of unfocused frenetic explosion in here that doesn't seem to be in service of to anything greater than its own release. I am all for letting it fly, in fact I wish more people would, but its got to fly somewhere. Production-wise though, this is rather brilliant or at least exhilaratingly clever. the doubling of the whispered vocals with Speak-n-Spell on "This Little Piggy" is hilarious.

But now, giving it an honest listen I'm starting to see the truth in Braniac. It is like Radiohead in that seamless integration of one's art and the technology of the time, but instead of exploiting the interfacing, Braniac makes hay of the crisis that comes from that.

Polvo - This Eclipse
Polvo - Today's Active Lifestyles
and then ol Polvo comes and takes all that crisis and thrashing around and makes it all calming and relaxed somehow. I always think Polvo has that same hangdog, aw shucks, lovable loser shtick that makes Dinosaur Jr. so appealing, but they remove the narrator completely out of the story, leaving only the impressions. Like how Alex Katz has those flat people not quite making eye contact while David Hockney leaves you to watch the ripples in the pool after they dove in. Katz may be the (debatably) better painter, but I'd rather live in the world depicted in Hockney's art.

Sonic Youth - Washing Machine
But all of that leads you back to the spinal cord throb of who-am-I, where-am-I, what-am-I, alternately manifesting as paranoia (Suicide) and wonder (Sonic Youth) For as expansive as Washing Machine is, there is a removal of the narrator, letting the sound and rhythms, even in the repeated phrases, do all the talking. Suicide does the opposite - it is all narrator held up by an obscured musicality. Suicide is about becoming nothing; Sonic Youth, everything. Either way, they both imply the vanishing point toward which he helplessly hurtle. Maybe it's been a black metal day after all.

1 comment:

  1. I wrote a paper in undergrad about those Alex Katz-es!
    Also, I know someone who works at a deli in NC and the deli is managed by some ex-Polvo member.