End Hits

Today’s album: End Hits, by Fugazi (1998)

I don’t think I realised, back when I bought this, how life changing it really was. I also didn’t realise, when I saw it get full marks in magazines ranging from Kerrang! to Terrorizer, what it actually sounded like.

In my head, it was quite abrasive. Like Helmet or Biohazard. Shouty, but not metal. Not as far along the continuum as early Machine Head or Chaos AD-era Sepultura. I got it, and ‘Break’ came on: a brief, almost jolly, song that seemed not to be of much import. Ah, maybe I wasted my allowance?

[A year on (during which I managed to annoy my fellow sixth form English students by playing this in the van up from Stratford Upon Avon – immediate this ain’t), and I’m obsessed with Fugazi. Me and the crew are seeing them at Leeds Met*. We’ve just been given flyers for a new skate/punk records shop opening up. It’s called Wisdom (skating)/Out of Step (music), and we’re just going to call it Wilson because of the typography on the sign. I’m also going to spend a lot of money there, but be unable to single handedly keep it open. For what it’s worth, I did get at least two of this series from there (but this one was from Way Ahead).]

Wow, I’m rambling, even by my standards. But this is important! I’d heard punk rock before, but I’d not felt it. The punk rock feeling, rather than just playing fast. But this odd record, with in hindsight post-rockiness, very mellow songs, the odd thrasher, but mainly really frigging interesting, engaging tracks with incredible arrangements – not least between the two guitarists MacKaye and Picciotto, who at this point had a similar kind of telepathic bond that the rhythm section already seemed to have developed.

This was the first new album I bought on vinyl. I stuck the inlay sheet up on my bedroom door, with its ‘COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE’ sign. I’d go to bat for any of their albums from 1993 to 1998 (and to a lesser extent, all of them ever). But this is where it all seems to fit together perfectly. I know it’s different for every Fugazi fan. Like Swans, Fugazi have always seemed to just be different from everyone else.

Recap Modotti – just listen to the damn bassline!

* turns out you can buy a recording of that gig: https://www.dischord.com/fugazi_live_series/leeds-england-42999

Jane Doe

Today’s record: Jane Doe by Converge (2001)

I resisted this!

It will shock you to learn that I can be contrary at times. (Right?) By 2001 I was a bit annoyed with metal. I joined, and was thoroughly disappointed by, the “rock soc” at university. Metal was everywhere, in the shape of Limp Bizkit, Disturbed and Linkin Park, and non-metal people were wearing Motorhead and AC/DC t-shirts. It was over.
So obviously, any metal that came out in that time couldn’t be good. I resisted this.

My man Rich Bee made me a MiniDisc compilation around that time (I think it was called “I like being thanked). On it, among other delights, was ‘Concubine’, by Converge.

I remember being on the platform at Manchester Piccadilly station one Saturday morning, on the way back to Leeds. During the wait, I played ‘Concubine’. When it finished, I skipped back to the start of the song. It was quite a long wait, and the song is about 90 seconds long. I listened to it many times.

Still I resisted the album.

But it is amazing. I think it won a few plaudits for best metal album of the noughties, and I probably wouldn’t fight that. It’s about a very messy breakup, and not only is the singer very upset, but it sounds like the rest of the band is upset for him. Like REALLY UPSET. But still able to articulate the upset, for the most part, and in a really technically accomplished manner.

Every song is insane, and heavy and noisy, but in different ways. you’ve got the hardcore fury of ‘Concubine’, you’ve got songs of almost white noise, you’ve got the epic, bizarrely melodic ten minute dry heave of anguish that is the title track.
But my favourites are when they just put the pedal to the metal, and rock more than you ever thought anyone could. ‘Homewrecker’ and the beautifully-named ‘Heaven in Her Arms’ are just unfairly good, especially when the latter gives you a false finish before lurching into reverse to run over your prone body like in the Righteous Gemstones.

Music has the right to children

I wrote this on my facebook, but I liked it too much just to have it there.

Today’s record: Music Has the Right to Children by Boards Of Canada (1998)

Just look at that damn cover art. I don’t feel like I need to say anything when you see that, but I’ll try (though I am tired). Has any album ever had a cover that conveys so succinctly what it’s all about?

I got this back in 2000, when I was new to electronic music. I was so new, in fact that when I went to the Warp Records site to look it up, I felt like I shouldn’t be there! I felt like a spy in the house of love. But I persevered and I got this. (I also got UF Orb, but the tale of me playing that while learning to fly in Mario 64 will have to wait).

This was a good intro to what was then called “electronica” (is it still?!), as it wasn’t really clubby music, despite what The Face said about it replacing Moby’s Play as the post-club 4am chillout album du jour. I liked how BoC themselves described it – music for lying down in a field on a sunny day. Beach Boys for a parallel reality.

I won’t bang on about hauntology, but there is something about that sense of nostalgia for a past that’s not necessarily yours; of the warm synth tones and fat hip hop beats being ever so slightly effed-with so the incredible beauty of the music sits alongside a sense of uneasiness. I just remember listening to it one night and feeling like I was going into space.

Devs episode 2

I still love the visual tone of this show. For the most part, the light is beautifully relaxing; ethereal. A perpetual autumn evening. A frozen moment. It’s got that dreamlike feel that reminds you of Tree of Life, in as much as you’re not sure that this is really happening, or happened.

This second episode’s emotional tone was overall less serene than the first. Probably intentionally, considering it detailed the fallout from Sergei’s death. Grief-stricken Lily tried investigating his phone for clues: other than a mysteriously password protected, self-destructing Sudoku app, there were none. That must be the key. She even leaned once more on that poor, rejected ex boyfriend to help her hack into said app.

In this episode, we also learned who Forest is, and the mystery of the giant child watching over the campus: she is an avatar of the real Amaya, Forest’s daughter who passed away. Forest is the charismatic cult leader-style head of the organisation, and we now have some insight into why he is so intense.

I like that the writers withhold key bits of information, drip-feeding it to us on a need-to-know basis. In the first episode, we took it as read that Forest was senior to Sergei and Lily, but that was as far as it went. We also knew that he was incredibly protective of his company’s data – to the point of murder – and that personal background helps us to understand why. Sort of.

Still very keen. And now I’ve written this up, I can carry on with actually watching the damn thing. I need to maintain some momentum. Not sure I’ll review every episode, but let’s see.