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diskant rewind: Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS #3

Posted: January 2nd, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

(Originally posted October 2003)

Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS by Dave Stockwell

“Next month,” I wrote [something like], “expect arbitrary gurglings about Lightning Bolt’s ‘Wonderful Rainbow’”. That was back in April. Since then there’s been a bit of an upheaval here at Diskant Towers, so we’ve been away. However, normal service can now be resumed – if under a different, altogether more appropriate, banner from now on.

You may have come here after reading the blurb about me being an obscurist bastard, for which I applaud, because I certainly wouldn’t have bothered. There’s nothing worse than reading a whole load of shit by some twat dribbling on like some heinous King of the Scene about some bands that you’ve never heard of (and will probably never hear of again), in terms that mean nothing to the average passer-by. So if you find yourself thinking, “What an [elitist] asshole!” at any point during this column, please feel free to email me and admonish me accordingly. It certainly isn’t my intention to alienate or blow my own-fucking-cleverness trumpet.

Speaking of which, do you know that godawful scene in that heinously smug film ‘High Fidelity’? You know, the one with Mincing John Cusack doing a wonderfully subtle bit of product placement for the Beta Band by saying “Watch me sell three copies of the Bayda Band”, putting it on the stereo, and having a strategically placed ‘customer’ turn around and say “What’s this?”; just so he can knowledgably assert “It’s the Bayda Band!”, and the customer guy can nod approval and say “cool” whilst stroking his namby-pamby adolescent beard like a faux-pseudo-bohemian hipster? I fucking hate that contrived ‘hey, I’m Hollywood, but I’m hip to the alternative’ scene. Unfortunately, it is the closest reference I can find for my intentions for this column. Bah.

But there are few things that make me happier than seeing someone turned onto music that I myself have discovered by random chance, or by taking a blind leap of faith in something I’ve heard about. It’s not the ego rush of being there first and being a superior snobby bastard about it, but the genuine pleasure of seeing someone get a kick out of something that presses your button too. The last time this happened to me was a couple of weeks ago, and once again my hapless victim was Simmo, who has frequently been my passenger on road trips. (In fact, most of my tapes in my car are designed to assuage/aggravate his moods, depending on how annoying I’m feeling whilst I drive.) This time around, we were off gallivanting to what was going to be our shared abode in Nottingham, and I’d just got this self-titled 7” on Wantage by an American band called The Whip. Upon hearing it once, I had to dub it straight onto the end of a dodgy Orchid tape, because it was the biggest, best, most rockingest new thing I’d heard in absolutely ages. Like since the time I first heard the mighty Part Chimp fellas. Even better, they had these huge heavy riffs with slightly odd rhythms, and weren’t afraid to pound them out again and again for your sonic delight. Hell, the A-side even has a couple false endings before it blasts through a few more repetitions towards a final conclusion. Plus, the singer sounds like Ian McKaye fattened up by years of WeightGain3000 abuse and no skateboarding. I haven’t got a clue what he’s singing about, but it sounds grand and I’m sure it’s deadly important. Unfortunately, The Whip’s drummer recently passed away in an unfortunate riverside accident (which isn’t funny, you Spinal Tap-loving trickster), and I’ve not idea whether they intend to carry on or not. It’s a damn shame because there’s some fantastic skin pounding on this, and it’s some really good stuff. Gah. In fact, it’s safely the best 7” single I’ve bought all year – mainly because I can’t think of anything else I’ve acquired that was any cop at all that wasn’t something grotesquely expensive+by Black Dice.

Having said that, I finally got around to getting the Minor Threat ‘First Demo Tape’ 7” that Dischord finally finished remastering and made available recently. Sure, the songs are the same as their debut 7”, and the performances here are just a little slower and less tight, but it’s still exciting to listen to, and the vinyl is a lovely shade of mauve. Plus, you get eight songs on one 45rpm 7”, so it’s pretty bargainous. This being (early) Minor Threat, all the songs do pretty much the same thing, and all end exactly the same way – Simmo says it sounds like a hardcore medley – so I guess it’s down to how much of a fanboy you are. If you haven’t heard Minor Threat, it’s probably not a bad/cheap place to start – especially if you bear in mind that they only got faster, harder, better and more self-righteous than this. Also worth getting to hear a very youthful Mr Henry Rollins joking around and doing some backup vocals for his childhood friend Mr Ian McKaye. Bizarre.

Whilst blathering about demos, I was recently lucky enough to receive a copy of the latest set of recordings by the immensely BIG and CLEVER Sanchez. Featuring Little Girl With Cherries’ drummer (James) on guitar/shouting, their favourite recording engineer (Dan) on bass/bellowing, and a fine primeval bludgeoner (Craig) roped in to hit some drums/frowns, this CD of three new songs recorded+mixed in but eleven hours sounds INCREDIBLE. That’s INCREDIBLE, I tells ya. It even goes some way towards capturing the sound of impending tinnitus that they induce when performing live (which they rarely do – something to do with the reluctance of promoters to book such a loud band in their little venues). Y’see, Sanchez play METAL – the big, fat, sound of tonnes of tarmac slapping down onto your fragile skull kind – but with all sorts of clever hooks, scarily intricate riffs, rhythm shifts, tempo changes, out and out noise, big hoofing chunky chords, and pure malignant joy in bad taste/ridiculous song titles. They’ve even got a song dedicated to Jeremy Beadle – it’s called “Remedial Boy-Hand”. Why Southern Lord hasn’t snapped them up already can only be due to the fact that they’re from around Coventry (despite its reputation as the Home of Doom?). Email them and ask nicely, and you might get to hear them rock the bejeezus out of your stereo sometime soon.

And speaking of music made by supermen, Foe have finally finished their debut album ‘Arm Yourself With Clairvoyance’ and it has just become available for your consumption on their very own label, House of Stairs. Risen from the ashes of Geiger Counter, Foe are a power trio – or a power duo until they find a replacement for recent departee bassist Crawford – who specialise in maddeningly complex mathematical progressive rock/metal. You know, that music that you couldn’t tap your feet to if you tried; the music that headbangers hate because it makes their necks ache. Well, Foe have succeeded in refining GC’s sound to make harder, much more direct, and generally much more rockin’ music. The Power of the Riff is writ large here, and Foe don’t hang about in demonstrating their chops. There’s virtually no mucking about (apart from the odd bout of electronic noises), it’s just riff after insistent riff – all weaved together in increasingly complex contortions. Foe are a band I cannot associate the words “tangle” or “lurch” with, because their playing and interplay is so carefully plotted and professionally executed. When they stretch out to songs almost ten minutes long (such as the climactic “Pick on God for a Good Laugh” – it would appear to be the month for amusing song titles), you’ll find your mind boggling at everything they manage to cram in. The album itself is only 32 minutes, but anything more really would be over-egging the pudding. Plus, they’ve got an EP due next February, are doing a split LP with their current tourmates American Heritage and The Art of Burning Water, and are threatening to make their next album a one-epic-track mindfuck. Eep indeed.

Well, that’s an awful lot of shouting and riffery for this month. Maybe too much? Next time I’ll try and throw some coherent sentences together about something a little different: maybe pitching some ambient drone stuff that has come out recently against the DoomDrone™ of Sunn0))); or maybe a few of the ‘free-improv’ bands that have been gaining more and more exposure in the last couple of years, such the would-be-infamous-if-any-fucker-had-heard-their-music No Neck Blues Band collective — It’ll probably depend on whether I can get over to Birmingham to see Sunburned Hand of the Man on October 22nd or not, so I can compare it Sunn0)))’s show in Nottingham on the 29th.
What fun and larks, eh? I’ll shut up now.

Oh yeah, Lightning Bolt. They’re fucking great, aren’t they? What do you mean, “Where’s the tune?”

Further Information
Lightning Bolt
The Whip
Minor Threat

Dave Stockwell

David can always be relied on to end his e-mails with one of those 'np: blah blah' things in order to remind us of how much more music he listens to every day than anybody else. His interests include rockin ' out in a major style as guitarist in Souvaris, throwing frisbees from tall buildings "just to see what happens" and simply kickin' back with his bitches in a gold-plated jacuzzi.


2 Responses to diskant rewind: Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS #3

  1. simonminter

    I’ve got that single by the Whip and it is indeed fucking Hot Nuts. I’ll have to dig it out

  2. Dave S

    Funny to think that those guys are now not only Big Business, but also one half of The Melvins. And they were pretty fucking awesome at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham in October.

    By the way, that Sunburned Hand of the Man show on 22nd October back in ’03 is still in my top 5 gigs I have ever attended. It was INCREDIBLE. Unfortunately, every time I have seen them since has been a case of seriously diminishing returns. The Sunn0))) show was pretty nifty too.