Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2006: Number 19

In the desert you can remember your name

Few are the bands that, twenty eight years into a career in such a full-on loose genre as post-hardcore, still have enough in them to produce an album that rages and assumes leadership of the new school into their own battle. Mission Of Burma made it extra difficult for themselves by taking 21 years off in the middle, and by never being straightforward to begin with. Taking ideas from Dada as much as the Stooges, playing with tape manipulation and extraordinary dynamic shifts, Signals Calls And Marches and Vs became landmarks and ONoffON virtually joined them two years ago. Hearing stunning album opener The Set-Up in HMV, of all places, at the time signalled that here was a band still mightily at odds with everything else in their path and wake alike.

The Obliterati doesn't contain a The Set-Up, or indeed that album's sense of conquering comeback, but it's not for the want of trying. Roger Miller, Peter Prescott and Clint Conley still seethe at the world and still they take it out on their instruments, pummeling opener 2Wice sounding conventional for the precise length of the one-line chorus against the wall of feedback and nightmarish bass sound. Throughout we find taut interplay, stop-start chainsaw riffs, production that knows when to make it sound like it's shitting gravel and when to make it sound virtually psychedelic, and lines, as in both guitar lines and lyrics, that attempt to batter your ideological door down through sheer force of thought, sometimes political, more often just spite filled. They've even learnt to lay off the passionate stuff occasionally, 13 an attempted mid-pacer that sounds like Nirvana Unplugged being invaded by Kyuss, Donna Sumeria a clanging, oblique twister of jigsaw guitars that three and a half minutes in drops in a falsetto harmony part of I Feel Love, and what can you really do with a song called Nancy Reagan's Head ("no way that thing came with that body")? But really this is a band who had nothing to prove going for it anyway and in the process kicking the bands who take the lineage of the early 80s American underground for granted into a ditch.

LISTEN ON: Spider's Web
WATCH ON: Nothing at all relating to this album, so here's a trailer for Not A Photograph, a documentary about their resurrection
READ ON: Clint Conley talks to Popmatters about how it all went right


Ben said...

That sounds VERY good...

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