Monday

disappointing albums revisted 2: new erections

The locust, for me, first appeared in a manchester basement and entirely re-affirmed my appreciation of screaming. the first band (local) had a singer who appeared to be yelping the same word again and again - possibly 'R'lyeh' - and i thought, i've had it with screaming. then orthrelm came on, and did something very strange to my head, without any vocals at all. this was all a long time ago...

about this time, when they were touring the 'plague soundscapes' record, i guess you could describe them as 'avant-grind', alongside melt banana and perhaps fantomas. they not only made me love screaming again, but they're the band to turned me onto synthesisers - not the human league, john carpenter, or brian eno, but a californian spazz-core band dressed in uniform gimp suits.


so the 23 minute, 21 track plague soundscapes was a stand-by for me for a long time - years after that, if things got too stressful at a house party, i'd go and put it on and ten minutes in, i'd feel completely refreshed. I read somewhere in an interview that they said while they started as a blastbeat-heavy straight-up grind band, they now used blastbeats more as a punctuation mark than an end in itself, and it's this that i really appreciated - as i see it, this is the main difference between grind and spazz.


their next output, 'safety second/body last' e.p. on mike patton's ipecac records, was a ten-minute synthonic spazzterpiece. the track listing made no sense at all, while the music was arbitrarily divided into two tracks. it wasn't just dynamic, even the dynamics were dynamic - the lows were so long and patient, brooding layers of synth culminating in massive high explosions of noise and colour. when i last saw them play, at barden's boudouir in dalston, they played it straight through and i danced perfectly to every spang, beat, and deliberate misfire. nobody else seemed to get it.


So i was a bit disappointed when 'new erections' came out. carrying on the lyrical themes of body horror and social nihilism, it's still a 20-odd minute album, but with only 11 tracks. i thought this was a bit weird, but the music fits this - it's sludgier, with deeper screams and more legible lyrics. nary a blastbeat on the whole record! i didn't get it, and i didn't get into it.

so i prepared myself by putting on my beloved safety second, body last; then sat down to listen to new erections. and they actually flowed really well into each other. it still strikes me as less 'bonkers' than their earlier records; it's not as yelpy and screechy, but stylistically it has the same patient grumbles.

i enjoyed it a lot more. i realised it fitted better into the, um, 'arc' of their steady altering of their style, from grind to - well, just weird music that can't be described as punk or metal, just arty, angry, music. an album is better when it's a stop on a journey rather than a different iteration of the same formula; maybe that makes me love both their soundscapes-era material and new erections more, and actually stops me writing them off as a band that's lost their way with side-projects. again, when i saw them at barden's and they played the material off of it, i loved it; maybe i just couldn't find the right space for it at home.

so welcome back to my heart, the locust. i'm sorry i doubted you.
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