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Desert Island Disc Day 3A: The Wilderness

Day 3A: The Wilderness

Day 3A Start

Day 3 is the last time we’ll be separating tracks by time period: at the end of Day 3, we will be down to the final ninety-six, and we’ll redraw at that point. I’m also changing things up a little for matchups—in cases where both tracks going head to head have lyrics, I’m going to be grabbing a piece of same from each song and comparing them solely on lyrical content (as long as I can decipher the full lyric excerpt I am trying to decipher). Well, this should be fun…

[man, it has been three months since I wrote most of this, and there are still tracks I couldn’t decipher the lyrics on, because I suck. My apologies to the bands involved.]

This is also the first time you’re being introduced to the sixteen tracks that make up the under-a-minute division. Here’s the stuff that hits you fast and hard, and is gone before you know it. Kind of like some of the people I dated in college…

East Subdivision:

#1 PainKiller, “TrailMarker”
vs.
#4 Gruesome Stuff Relish, “The Bite of the Zombie”

[at least one song is an instrumental, so no lyric-to-lyric matchup possible.]

photo credit: bravewords.com

Gruesome Stuff Relish: “no, honestly, we’re not from Canada.”

The wonderfully-named Spanish joke-grinders Gruesome Stuff Relish, whose track here is taken from the excellent 2003 comp The Last Men in Gore, are a band you’re not supposed to take seriously, and they let you know it from the get-go with song titles like “(We Are the) Rot Crew”. (They also did a hilarious pseudo-cover of R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World (As We Know It)”. Figure THAT out…) Funny, funny stuff that unfortunately happened to run into PainKiller, the jazz-metal supergroup (John Zorn, Bill Laswell, and Mick Harris, with occasional assistance from Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick and Christian Green) who turned in the single shortest track in the competition; “TrailMarker”, which comes from the 1992 disc Execution Ground, weighs in at an epic three seconds. I grant you, “The Bite of the Zombie” is only twenty seconds…but that makes it almost seven times as long. As we get into, and beyond, Day Three, track duration is going to start playing a much more important part in the proceedings, and it might as well start here as PainKiller goes into the hopper.


Here’s the whole album. It doesn’t take THAT much longer to listen to, and you need it anyway.

#2 Inerds, “Shut It”
vs.
#3 Capitalist Casualties, “Draining Blood from the Land”

[yeah, YOU try making out those lyrics]

vs….

[yeah, YOU try making out those lyrics]

You have already heard Buffalo’s Inerds here; with a bit of reconfiguration and a change of lead vocalist, they become Bestower, whose excellent “The Question Nobody’s Asking” was sent to the roundhouse back on Day 2E. That Inerds has a shorter path to the hopper is in no way to intimate that they’re a lesser project than Bestower; if anything, the opposite is the case. Inerds do it faster, uglier, and shorter than their alter-egos, and man, if you ever get a chance to catch these cats live, run, do not walk. “Shut It” is taken from (as far as I know) their sole release to date, the “Stonewall” 7” demo. It’s pretty much perfect, as far as grindcore goes, blistering speed combined with surprising tightness overlaid with pointed, often humorous lyrics. They’re up against Santa Rosa, CA-based godfathers of powerviolence Capitalist Casualties, who have been around in some form or another for almost thirty years now (they formed in 1987). “Draining Blood from the Land” is a relatively early track (from the 1993 EP Raised Ignorant), but it’s been a band standard ever since; it pops up four(!) times on Collection, their 1997 comp of early material. It’s usually been the case (I was hoping it wouldn’t happen, but yeah, it has, and you’ve probably noticed) that in matchups where older bands were going up against newer bands, I’ve had a tendency to go with the older band; familiarity definitely does not breed contempt. I know I’m not alone in this (look at the number of radio stations in this country that still play “Freebird” three times a week…), but I was hoping that it wouldn’t happen. Silly me. Here, though, I’m definitely going with the track of more recent vintage; Inerds are just so much fun, both on record and in person, while Capitalist Casualties have a tendency to land on the overly-serious side. I’m usually going to go with the band that makes me laugh in matchups like that, and thus, Inerds go into the hopper.


A slightly longer mix.

In the Midwest subdivision, we have…

#1 Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, “Red Alert”
vs.
#4 Warsore, “Vegetarian Barbarian”

[at least one song is an instrumental, so no lyric-to-lyric matchup possible.]
No Wave pioneers Teenage Jesus and the Jerks became one of New York’s most infamous rock and roll acts, despite being around for less than three years and releasing a grand total of eighteen songs, thanks partially to their appearance on the Brian Eno-helmed No New York comp (which also featured ex-Jerk James Chance’s follow-up band The Contortions), which included this track, and partially thanks to the band members’ followup careers (Lydia Lunch has had a successful outside-the-mainstream music and spoken word career, Jim Sclavunos most recently played with Nick Cave’s outfit Grinderman, and Gordon Stevenson, before his untimely death in the early eighties, was on the road to becoming a critical success as a film director). “Red Alert” was one of the first “punk” songs I ever heard, and wouldn’t Lydia Lunch, who despised the entire punk aesthetic, kick my ass if she heard me say that?, but hell, it was 1982 and I didn’t know any better, and the radio station at Penn State (I was a middle-school townie at the time) had a DJ who often played a lot of outré music and classed it as punk; I found out about as many Teenage Jesuses as I did Black Flags thanks to that radio show. It was fast and loud and oh, that guitar. They are up against the similarly-defunct Australian grindcore outfit Warsore, whose posthumous 2003 comp Re-Opened Wound spawned this 1995 atrocity. If you’re a fan of grindcore, it doesn’t get much better than this; Warsore took the faster-than-you’ll-ever-live-to-be aesthetic seriously, but never sacrificed musicianship for speed. This is a very tough battle…but ultimately, Warsore weren’t doing anything bands like Assück and PainKiller (above) weren’t already doing, even if by the mid-nineties they were probably doing it better than anyone else, while Teenage Jesus’ entire aesthetic was “break new ground”. And thus the Jerks find their way into the hopper.

#2 Kusari Gama Kill, “Kabuki Jesus”
vs.
#3 Retch, “B”

[at least one song is an instrumental, so no lyric-to-lyric matchup possible.]

Dutch electrogrinders (“electrogrind”, if you’re unfamiliar, = grindcore + drum machine) Kusari Gama Kill put out the fun, fun Chaos Surge album in 2011 on Grindcore Karaoke, and it has the distinction of its entire catalog—all twenty-nine songs—being less than one minute long. And all of them are a great deal of fun. But the RNG had the temerity (or the faith in Kusari Gama Kill, which is unfortunately misplaced) to match them up against Cleveland’s own Retch, a side-project of a side-project of Plague Mother’s Roman J. Leyva (who founded the powerelectronics trio Torso, of which Retch is two-thirds—Roman J and Sarah Barker). To date, they have released a single eponymous cassette, in 2012. The first side is exactly what you would expect if you’ve ever seen Retch live (and if you haven’t check Youtube—I know there’s a Retch performance up there because I filmed it with Roman’s phone). I almost don’t want to tell you about Side B because it would spoil the fun, but I guess I have to—it is entirely blank until nine minutes and fifty seconds in (it’s a C20), at which point it tears your ears off for six seconds. It’s the ultimate hidden track! You already know how I feel about Roman J projects (you’ll be seeing Lockstep again in Day 3B and Plague Mother again in Day 3G), and that hasn’t changed one bit, so Retch goes into the hopper, and Kusari Gama Kill go into the bullpen.

In the west…

#1 Aube, “20001031”
vs.
#4 Agata, “Rescued to be Shot and Killed”

[at least one song is an instrumental, so no lyric-to-lyric matchup possible.]

Japanese ambient/noise artist Akifumi Nakajima records under the name Aube (French for “Dawn”, for those of you who don’t know—I didn’t until about 2005-ish). Or did, as he seems to have mysteriously disappeared towards the end of the last decade. Be that as it may, as far as “big projects” is concerned, Aube’s Millennium series is one of the biggest in noise—Nakajima recorded one track per day for the entire year 2000, and twelve albums were gradually released by Armonika, an sub-label of Italy’s Amplexus that seems to have existed for the sole purpose of releasing this project (one other release, Triad Thread, also by Aube, came out on the label in 2000, then the twelve CDs between 2000 and 2002, and at the end, a double LP/CD release that contained a series of remixed selections from the 12 discs). There are a lot of solid tracks throughout the box that vary widely in length; some are under a minute, while some brush ten. Honestly, I grabbed “20001031” (and if you don’t know what disc that’s on, I can’t help you any more) because it’s my birthday. It’s one of the shorter tracks that sounds kind of like sound-source to me rather than a fully-formed piece of work; it’s a sound wash without anything new or especially interesting going on, but it’s nice. It’s up against another Japanese artist, Agata, better known as the hyperactive guitarist for Tokyo punkers Melt-Banana. He released a single solo album, 2004’s Spike, on Tzadik. While Agata mostly continues on the microsong path fans of Melt-Banana will be familiar with—only three of the album’s twenty-five cuts run longer than two minutes—the actual guitar work is a lot more freeform than what he does when constrained by other band members. This is a smooth-or-jagged matchup, with neither side showing a great deal, which means whatever wins here will probably get spanked in the next round; smooth wins today, and Aube continues on.

#2 Agnostic Front, “Victim in Pain”
vs.
#3 Black Flag, “Wasted”

“The way I act, the way I dress
Doesn’t make me strong or make me best
Soon they’ll find my reasons why
I’m open minded and not blind”

vs….

“I was a hippie
I was a burnout
I was a dropout
I was out of my head
I was a surfer
I had a skateboard
I was so heavy, man
I lived on the Strand”

You know what? I know which way I’m supposed to go with this battle. I mean, look at those lyrics and tell me what has more heft. But man, Keith Morris exposes the secret link between filthy hippies and filthy hardcore kids! “Wasted” is just as funny in 2013 as it was when I first heard it thirty years ago. As much as I love Agnostic Front, “Wasted” goes into the hopper.

Finally, in the South…

#1 Insect Warfare, “Reanimated Horde”
vs.
#4 Admiral Angry, “Jack Said ‘Devour White Like Ajax’”

“I call upon resurrecting undead
spawn animate their rotted flesh
dead arise hunt your prey
cut up the skin, drink from the vein”

vs….

[yeah, YOU try making out those lyrics]

One of the very last musical recommendations I got from Steve Meketa before he relocated to California was LA’s Admiral Angry, who he said was one of the only powerviolence bands he still listened to. It was a solid rec, as usual (that was the same conversation where he introduced me to Field of Hats, whose “Votary” is my favorite song). I first learned of Houston-based grinders Insect Warfare from the guys in Fascist Insect a little before that, but for all intents and purposes, the two bands have both been mainstays of my collection for about the same amount of time (five years). It’s easy to grab a point of comparison here; IW went for the darker, muddier sound common to a lot of grindcore bands, while Admiral Angry went with the treble-heavy approach of bands like The Locust and Arab on Radar. (Honestly, I didn’t actually realize that until right before I typed that sentence. Weird, huh?) In many cases I’m going to go with the sludgier sound in matchups like this, back when we all had boomboxes and our ideas of EQ were “one treble knob and one bass knob”, I always kept the former at zero and the latter at max. And thus Insect Warfare head into the hopper.

#2 Satanic Threat, “Guilty of Hating Christ”
vs.
#3 Meatshits, “Acid Bath”

[dammit, I ALMOST had them]

vs…..

“A diet of death, a diet of shit
Wasting away until nothing is left
Recycle your waste as fast as you can
To die eating shit, that is the plan”

photo credit: last.fm

“Well, we’re Satanic Threat, and we’re not from Canada either. PRAISE LUCIFER.”

Cleveland hardcore kids Satanic Threat squeak by on the no-covers rule, despite every song on the In To Hell seven-inch (their only release, from 2008) actually being a Minor Threat cover, in the same way Led Zeppelin avoided prosecution for “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”–the lyrics have been changed from Ian MacKaye’s sociopolitical attacks to Satanic imagery. This should not be a surprise for anyone who knows, or knows of, the guys behind Satanic Threat. (You may know them better as Cleveland metal legends Nunslaughter, who have been around for two decades and counting.) The seven-inch, which has been out of print pretty much since before it was released, is absolutely sterling, as are their live shows. (There have been two, one opening for Caustic Christ in October of 2008 and one headlining over Killer of Sheep—which features ex-members of Caustic Christ—in September of 2011. I was at both.) Oh, and for the record—Ian MacKaye owns a copy of the seven-inch, and anecdotally loves it. (Contamination Diet’s Brian Neaville supposedly gave it to him. Brian and I have been buds for many many years now…) How can LA’s most notorious grind band, the off-and-on-again atrocity exhibition known as Meatshits, compare? And I have to say, I have never, and I mean never, before encountered an album listing at spirit of metal that required me to log in to access it. But Give Hate a Chance, the 2005 comp whence this track? Login and password, baby! While I have to respect a band that can piss that many people off that consistently, I had to give this one to Satanic Threat pretty much without a second thought.

The Under-One-Minute division adds the following songs to the general hopper…
Aube, “20001031”
Black Flag, “Wasted”
Inerds, “Shut It”
Insect Warfare, “Reanimated Horde”
PainKiller, “TrailMarker”
Retch, “B”
Satanic Threat, “Guilty of Hating Christ”
Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, “Red Alert”

Previous: Day 2K, West/South Subdivisions
Next: Day 3B

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Desert Island Disc Day 2K: North of the 37th Parallel, West/South Subdivisions | Popcorn for Breakfast

  2. Pingback: Desert Island Disc Day 3B: Kentucky Nip | Popcorn for Breakfast

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