Friday, June 26, 2015

Up Close and Extremely Loud

Did I say the 90s weren't mine? Beck maybe (no, absolutely) and the the 80s' leftovers (NIN, Pumpkins); the rest was promise that didn't pay off (still waiting for the 2nd album we should have had from Pearl Jam). Once again it was the way left of center that saved the 90s from themselves. That year I threw in the towel (ditched the girl, bought a fast car) there were two albums meant for the up close and the really loud, Fugazi's In On the Kill Taker and Faith No More's Angel Dust. I was living with my grandmother, so to speak – it was where I kept my boxes – and when I was home (rarely), I'd turn on these LPs, volume low, yes low, and just listen; it was an odd paradox, like everything else in my life at the time: loud softly; Fugazi way down low. And yet,

1. In On the Killer Take was their angriest, noisiest record yet, like a really bitter, p-o'd Nevermind. At first I hated it. After the dazzling mellow bellows of Steady Diet, I was irritated and bored by the blatant Fugazi-isms blasting out all over the dang living room at my grandmother’s. Not to mention that Ian MacKaye appeared to have lost his voice, his visceral scream reduced to a muppet-esque scraggly belch.

Then I set it aside and hit the road; came back to realize that every song was killer. It may have been noisy (especially the extended double-feedback drum-click coda to "23 Beats Off"), but there were great hooks everywhere, both musically and vocally. For great punk-influenced smash-em-up, "Great Cop." For the dark moody feel of old, "Last Chance For A Slow Dance" or "Sweet And Low." IDK, I tend to assume that Fugazi just happened to be in a loud mood the day they went into the studio, and for me, In On the Killer Take, lights off, feet hanging over the side of a too small sofa, was one step away from the heavenly Loveless; me, quiet and angry. If there was a singular LP that most blatantly changed the way I listened to music, this was it.

2. Serendipity. I like words that when spoken aloud roll from the tongue with an almost magical resonance. I also like words that obfuscate (oh yes!) the simplest of statements and cause the recipient to believe there are hidden meanings and even spiritual guidance to be found within, if only they could decipher the truth. Because, to those looking for reasons, serendipity is karma, or destiny, or fate. To me, with little romance in my soul, it’s sheer bloody luck! I bought a 12" Faith No More single because the B-side was "Midnight Cowboy." From there I bought Angel Dust. I’d been looking for theme music for a long time, and the fact that FMN stayed true to the original whilst adding atypical harsh flourishes is a fuck-yeah bonus. It's late now, twenty years hence and it's way too late to play music loudly or even loud music softly and I'm tired and I'd like to go to bed and I will, leaving you hanging on Angel Dust with this: Angel Dust is so emphatic and all over the place that it's exhausting, yet it's also obviously inspired, somehow coherent and free of filler. Tomorrow I will listen to it again real loud. Tonight instead I will put on "Midnight Cowboy" and close my eyes.

These are the albums that kicked off NuMetal (from this writer’s vantage point), the most lifeless and insipid movement from an anemic decade, but take them away from that pigeonhole and I’m set.

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