Monday, February 18, 2008

BLUE SABBATH BLACK CHEER "Blue Sabbath Black Cheer"/"Catacombs"/"For The Sickly Weakling" (Gnarled Forest)

These three cassettes, the first a c20, the latter two c30's, were all released simultaneously, in nearly identical packaging. Taken together, the result is a satisfying eighty minute piece, far exceeding the expectations of a listener put off, perhaps, by what may be the dumbest band name in underground music right now. If they were to actually pay tribute to the influences to which they so shamelessly refer in their music, a more appropriate name might be Wolf Police Hair Eyes. Which brings me to my dilemma: the music on these tapes is good, really, but from my old codger-like perspective, it is pure throwback. If I hadn't seen the artwork, I could have been convinced that these tapes were Wolf Eyes recordings from eight years ago. And that's fine, I suppose, for younger noise fans who may have never heard the pre-Sub Pop Olson, Young & Co.-- that music was good too, in its time. The horror movie atmosphere and spooky vocals, the buzzsaw electronics and slow pounding beats, the dogshit production quality. When done right, it really worked. Which prompts the question: when a bands moves on before its audience is ready, who fills the void that is left? It's certainly possible that pleasure may still be mined from the methods that Wolf Eyes left behind years ago. If it's still good when Blue Sabbath Black Cheer show up and start reassembling the pieces, should the audience just shut up and enjoy it as the next best thing, or attack them for being creatively bankrupt rip-offs? I'll take the former approach and say that these tapes should be enjoyed, even if one does it as nostalgia. Truth be told, this stuff is really engaging. BSBC are a tight, well rehearsed band, with thoughtfully composed tracks and an undeniable energy. Some of the material on these tapes come from live shows in Seattle and Portland, and they must have been impressive experiences for everyone present. (The rest of the tracks were recorded "in a shed in the woods" in case anybody doubted the band's kvlt authenticity).