Thursday, December 22, 2011

Schrodinger's Lottery Ticket

A record in a box is neither good nor bad....

We just got home from a day of fun in Mississippi. I should be working on the thing with a deadline but I am dealing with a batch of LPs that hitched a ride across the border. They snuck into the back of the Ranger, somehow charging us $1.99 each for the ticket. I have never been fond of moxie, but it turns out I find these hanger-ons to be irresistible: A neat cross-section of works that have piqued my interest in the past which I have never really heard; a strident clan held together by tenuous threads of inference, aesthetic affinity and parallels in time or intersections of label patronage. It’s as if they were wrapped up with a bow big enough to accent a brand new car. I almost feel like I was set up. Let's review:

The Wolfgang Press The Burden of Mules 4AD 1983 Thought it would be more Aztec Camera or C86 guitar twee but it turns out to be an almost spot on (mate!) sketch of Flowers of Romance in the three songs on “this side”. Layers of primitive beats and John Lydon yelling his forebodings from the bathroom down the hall compete for best of show in the look-a-like contest. A more thematic instrumental opens the “over” side (perhaps meant to be heard first) with the drums carried over in full. We hear vocals again in the quirkier (if you like that sort of thing) “Prostitute I” and with authority, singer Michael Allen now pitches the stylings of Mark Perry. The impersonation is intensely compatible with the matter-of-fact dribble on the established profession. More hunger pangs, yelps and architectural reverb; this time led on by a cyclical bass line or two and we are back again, so soon but so ready for more Sniffin' Glue at “Prostitute II”. It is a reprise or reworking of some sort but godamnit if I can't tell the two apart. Then the last song lets itself in as a non-threatening steady drip of water and the albums' bedtime story ensues. It's told by grandma but she is a robot and not a very good one. The story was transcribed from a handkerchief David Lynch blew his nose in once and something has teeth. Your robot grandma obviously doesn't care about you but the backing track, resolute in This Mortal Coil, sure seems like it does and will coax you to sleep. It all comes to a soft crescendo obfuscating all the incidental sounds in the room. I am glad this record is not worth a ton of money because I want to listen to it over and over.

Depeche Mode Music for the Masses Sire 1987

Nothing like a Depeche Mode record to make you feel like you were born in the wrong time. It would have been nice to have these jams as my default high school soundtrack. A successful, thoroughly polished yet legitimately good pop song - heard wide on the radio, would have been a welcome example in my formative years. A perfect pop song is a role model in its existence; a quality product that is also appreciated by the masses is so very rare. "Behind the Wheel" on the charts would serve as an inescapable reminder that prosperity and authenticity can coexist. Then the next song comes on and I don't feel like that anymore.

What follows are the four Ministry recordings acquired today; the first and second full-length LPs, a 12" single and an EP. I have high hopes for these recordings.

Ministry With Sympathy Arista 1983
A how-to of various ways to suck in the early 80's. Al Jourgensen himself called this “an abortion of an album”. (I discovered that quote after putting down my first sentence.) (I don't understand what you mean by this “backspace”....) (If Ministry had to suffer a false start, I do too.)

Ministry “All Day" b/w "Everyday (is Halloween)” Wax Trax! 1985 It's like I have this unfounded standard in my head for how early Ministry should sound and they are just BARELY passing here. This single slid by on reminding me of Go Insane-era Lindsay Buckingham with a British accent.....a faux British accent, Mr. Jourgensen is from Chicago. I made a commitment long-ago to accept and possibly embrace this sort of affectation; I find it endearing. Hopefully he is not copying off the dumbest kid in class.

Ministry "Cold Life" b/w "I'm Falling" "Primental" & "Cold Life Dub" Wax Trax! 1985 Picked up a copy of AP Magazine today and learned the kids are using prescription drugs. Wanna know why? “Dubstep”, says Alex Downtain of Marietta, Georgia.

Ministry Twitch Sire 1986 I actually listened to this one first. Thank fucking God. Not sure if I would have made it here otherwise. be continued