Thursday, 29 August 2013

Gas Rag - Human Rights EP

Some Cülo/Acid Reflux freaks running speedpunk hustles. Sharp and jerky, guitars snapping back and forth with menace, but this shit, like Cülo  is not uncatchy. Though it's strapping a garrotte guitar tone to a beat too fast to headnod to, when it hits lines like "THIS WORLD IS SUCH A DRAG/SO PUT SOME SHOE GOO IN A BAG!" on Pass Out or "THE WEIGHT OF LIFE KEEPS BEARING DOWN ON ME/2012 DISAPPOINTS WE'RE LEFT WAITING FOR THE END!" on The End, you're singin. Like Pusrad, but not as utterly monomaniacal in its brevity (6 songs in 6 minutes, not 31 in 10), and a little dirtier too. Its thin hardcore-punk is packed with little moments, like the brief basscut on Abort Them, the slow start to Final Peace accelerating almost immediately, the mid-tempo kick in The End and a little bass wobble like a starter motor burbling into action, that you can't get away from, and make you blast them one more time.

Nihilism born of rage, political impotence and despair screamed on Hebron ("THE LAND ALWAYS GOES TO THIEVES") twisting and flowering into caustic extinction desire, be it of the hated power bases (Abort Them), the the world itself (Final Peace offers hippies a true chance at peace in a wholly dead world, The End is self-explanatory) or just of brain (Pass Out). The most positive song on this thing is about running away from home to be a bankrobber, like The Dwarve's dumb-death-pop Runaway #2, done up all in frenetic ribbons and with the criminal's life painted as a weird endless soulsearching with stolen guns and sharpied anarchy symbols.) Out on Beach Impediments Records, this a tight fist of punk punch.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Good Throb - Culture Vulture

Second 7" from this band made up, as all bands are legally required to be nowadays, from members about 25 other bands. Abrasive punk songs jagged like compound fractures. On Muscle Horse records.

Culture Vulture takes a long time to get going,  all slow stumbling build like it's coalescing
naturally out of a tune-up as the bass-twang and experimental drumchecks come from randomness in towards something. Then the guitar's properly kick-in and you get those vocals, snapping and accusatory, so piercing that they can turn the words 'literary supplement' into a killing screed. I love Good Throb's vocals, they are so unbeatably harsh. My favourite moment on this song is the shout of "THAT'LL LEARN YA!" over bare drums as the chorus drops away into a roll-call of cultural figures, from Judith Butler to John Sargent to Frida Kahlo, again building in intensity and wrath. This song is all about that rise and fall, hitting a riff and then diving out of it back into clattering incoherence before pulling you back in again. An attack on bourgeois pursuits (or possibly a knowing celebration) that is deliberately making itself hard to get a handle on, so as to prevent co-option, maybe. "THAT'LL LEARN YA!"

Headache, a chiller vibe, but still ready to stab, where it's got one of those insistent bass runarounds that just carries itself discretely, settling into a nice little groove, making you think of a Pixies song or Up to the Fells by King of the Slums, it's a fitting background for the deadpan tale of sleep-deprivation degrading from "I've got to stay awake. I've got to read some books" into "NOW I'M SPEWING! AND THERE'S NOTHING WORTH DOING!"

Torture Garden, stop-start, each thing stabbing each other in mechanistic click-clack like Stiff Little Finger's Closed Groove, weirder in its construction though, mucky like a Lumpy and the Dumpers song or a fleshy Steve Aylett digression, again making sounds that seem at odds and random push together into furious moments, speed and noise shifts to unsettle throughout, those flensing vocals, sometimes feeling almost incidental in its anger. Here are three pretty much perfect songs of an terrific furious aesthetic, arty but fuck-off, like some motherfucker nailing his hand to the wall of MOMA.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Neo Cons - Idiot Circus

Out on Deranged Records, this is PUNK ROCK MUSIC. Taking their name from some horrible shit, as punk bands are wont to do (see also: Reagan Youth, CIA, White Cop, etc.), Neo Cons have split up now and this is their last work. The first track, a punk theme song. I love punk theme songs, those weird anthemic exegeses of dumb band names, simultaneously self-mythologising and undercutting, like Marginal Man or Fearless Iranians From Hell screaming "WE'RE THE FEARLESS IRANIANS! FROM HELL! WE KICK ASS WHEREVER WE GO! WE SMELL!", the Battledykes rolling in rock and roll momentum,  or The BBQ Chickens repurposing the Monkees them. Neo Krunch manages to do something different to all those songs, framed as it is as a crashing cereal jingle, snap of mic cords, record crackle and the pop of dislocating bones. So it's a punkthemeanthem but also kinda an attack on the evils of the cereal industry "START YOUR DAY OFF RIGHT! WITH CHEAP CARBOHYDRATES!" and "HEY KIDS! GOT SOMETHING FOR YOU!/CRISPY, CRUNCY CORN SYRUPY GOO!". Not many punk bands have the insight to recognise the Honey Monster for the true menace he is. Fuck keeping hunger locked up til lunch, burn the prisons! The singer has one of those great punk voices that exists consists outside it's own comfort zone, yelping and chewing itself apart and on Neo Krunch it's back up by some great female vocal shots furthering that whole childish boppy atmosphere.

Brain Drain has a silly freakout before its tiny solo, calling to mind not some deranged pain, but a goofy wobbling face making noises for babies. Nimby's central N! I! M! B! Y! shout is delivered in such a way  that it's barely recognisable as those letters, hitting back from a freak perspective at the clean neighborhood sanitisers. No Allegiances is an anti-scene rant with a streetpunk chorus. Goin Commando is simultaneously a first-person rant from the perspective of a fargone militianut, which obviously demands a title that makes you picture bollocks hanging free in the breeze. That's this band, that balance of silliness and politics thrown together with sarcasm to spare into punk songs that might verge on hardcore sometimes but always with a little New Bomb Turks tear thrown in there in its chops and cuts. Good shit.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Framtid - Defeat of Civilization

"It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge. War endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way." - Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian

"In the pre-dawn glow the plain before us seemed to move like a vast grey ocean, undulating gently; but instead of water it was a sea of chitin, flecked with claw and fang rather than foam, rolling inexorably on towards the fragile defensive island of the artillery park, I would have wept with disappointment if I wasn't already too terrified for any other emotion." - Sandy Mitchell, Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium

    These Japanese crust killers made us wait. 11 years since the release of the classic Under the Ashes, Framtid return to shock and awe. Defeat of Civilization, out on Black Water in US, La Vida Es Un Mus in Europe and Crust War in Japan. They have not lost the stark black-and-white art. They have not mellowed. This is relentless stuff, crust in the mold of the Shitlickers sickened dirt burn, stretched slightly longer that the 1 minute blasts of the Cracked Cop Skulls EP or Diskonto's discography but retaining all drive, all wounded beast power. It's crust without the anchoring rock and roll of stuff like Malignant Tumour or Black Panda, where the noise twists around some dimly recognisable Lemmyborn structure, without the sweeping neocrust machinations of the likes of Ekkaia where the soaring scope of wasteland epics struggle against the lowdown rockethrust, this is just the demented aural attack. Framtid sound like a fucking bomb going off.

    Framtid pierce and Framtid push onwards in the black. Framtid attack.

    Attack is the right word. Bomb is too. And shock and awe collocated nastily by snide Pentagon mappers and tacticians, because throughout Framtid use their terrible power to oppose greater, more terrible powers. I saw them explode in a Texas warehouse with a banner hung behind them stating BY ANY MEANS WAR IS UNNECESSARY. That is what Framtid primarily sing about. They've got the ills of society on blast (man, are Framtid a band that earns the term 'on blast') but more than anything they are ANTI-WAR and they are ANTI-NUKE.

    Their anti-war, anti-nuke sentiment dominates this album, they come from a country who, both then and now has been on the sharp end of the worst parts of that particular chain reaction. Ashes to Ashes screams "INNOCENT SUFFER FIRST/INNOCENT DYING FIRST", the title track sets up humankind as on a battle with the ultimately uncontrollable forces of fission ("HUMAN KIND AND NUCLEUS/CAN'T COEXIST") and the song Nuclear Power Genocide. The lyrics for UCAV (unmanned combat air vehicle if you're not up to date with the current euphemism for senseless murder machines) "AND AGAIN THE SENSE OF SIN/DISAPPEARS FROM THE ACT OF WAR", one of the best lines on this album (not for this band are trite war sucks platitudes), containing so much wrong in one scream, breaking through the dearth of shame resulting from the sheltering effects of video game interfaces when real damn people are burning under the gun,  piercing the disconnect between action and result.

    A lot of the lyrics in here point to traps, point to repetitions of this cycle, that little 'and again' kicking off that line, the song Error Again ("ERROR AGAIN/SWAYED AGAIN!"), the unanswered howl of Will The World Change, the bitterness of Sarcastic Truth ("AFTER THE WAR IS OVER/THERE IS SUPPOSED TO BE A LIFE IN PEACE") the opening line of Ashes to Ashes is "THEY ARE STILL IN BATTLEFIELDS!". Those little words, those agains and evers and stills that point to a continuous process, an ongoing struggle, maybe an endless one, caught in these circular motions. "JUSTICE DESTROYING JUSTICE/HOPE KILLING HOPE/LIFE ERASING LIFE/INHUMANITY'S ALSO HUMANITY" goes Sarcastic Truth's weltschmerz smear.

    Attack. Bomb. Shock and awe. This reflective noise, like Crass proclaiming THE NATURE OF YOUR OPPRESSION IS THE AESTHETIC OF OUR ANGER from the art of Yes Sir, I will, like the grenades in the war scenes in Hal Duncan's Vellum bursting with an onomatopoeic DOOM!, a sound calling to mind all our worst moments and set-up to counter it, this is the meat of Discharge taken further, charging harder. The oppression Framtid face is oblivion strong, and the way they resist is the same. Once, when I was a dickhead youth (dickhead is such a more evocative and accurate word than callow), someone invited me to go on an anti-war march, and I, remembering a line from the preface to Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5, made some glib dickhead comment about it being about as much use as going on an anti-glacier march. I was wrong, obviously, because while shit gets shittier, politician cunts get more cuntish, and Framtid acknowledge that, they also, on probably the most anthemic moment of the album, scream "NEVER SURRENDER, OPPOSE THE POWER!". So I was wrong, because fuck giving up, fuck that sort of cynicism that lets them win, but maybe what matters most here, what matters is that Framtid sound like they could stop a fucking glacier.

    NEVER SURRENDER! OPPOSE THE POWER! Uncompromising is as good a word as 'relentless' for Framtid's workings. As Rorschach had it in Watchmen, "Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise", you know, when he was just a character in a great comic that ticked along under the threat of the cold war and hadn't been adopted by a million self-satisfied fuckheads and had his Randian origins in Ditko's Mr A properly squeezed out and emphasised by people who are more than willing to compromise on everything, but just don't like people.

    Though there is stuff other than war. There's Prison, attacking the incarcero-industrial complex amongst it's drum flurries, echoing the thoughts of Angela Davis when she said "Jails and prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo - obedient to our keepers, but dangerous to each other." Prisons are another example of justice destroying justice, humanity as inhumanity, where this time in the lyrics the literal explosions of Framtid's other tracks slide into a tearing metaphor for the irradiated pain of lives inside. A reckless run-up into shouts of "INSIDE THE HIGH STRETCHED FENCES/SOUNDS OF EXPLOSION NEVER STOPS/ENDLESS DESTRUCTION"

    The crustswells of Deceived and Abused, riff ingurgitated in the thick murk of bassed-up Disclose sonics (this album is dedicated to that band's departed frontman Kawakami), but it is unlike though the ugly sublimate noise of someone like D-Clone where each instrument can find itself just shrieking as one with. In a Framtid song there is guitar. There is discernible purpose and momentum here, but it is all engine, all the skid and turn of tank tracks, it is the warmachine forward roar, not solos flailing high and above, not swaggering or gaudy like the slogans or cheesecake daubed on a bomber's nose. Deep buzz like convoy rumble, death attendant and sticky. "UNREASONABLE EXPLAINS/SOCIAL MALAISE/UNREASONABLE RESULT/SOCIAL MALAISE" continuing that self-repeating downward spiral, where the hate feeds the hate. Continuing that second coming, in madness, eye-tearing, skin-blistering madness, a voice of It sound.

    Though there are little peaks of Jacky's guitar where it climbs out of the dark bubbling, there's a solo on NPG that hits out briefly before being dragged under, one that flails on Never Surrender before being dragged down almost immediately, feeling like it's been cut-off prematurely, brutally embraced, like it couldn't survive in the wild, outside the assaultative swirl of the rhythm section and its radiation bones.

    Uncompromising. Relentless. Bombs. Awe. Attack. Shock. A complete fucking statement, built bunkerstrong. So much to take in. Makino's vocal anguish, a throat scorched by fire, a mouth full of salted earth and anger for the dead. Framtid. A ground-to-sky behemoth, a noise of depth, of death, destruction mechanics, blotting out the shine with bootblack and scumgod.