Dee Generate On Wolf Eyes
Dee Generate On Wolf Eyes
“It's the buzz, buzz, buzz, in the drum of the ear . . .”
The first punk band I saw was Subway Sect at the 100 Club Punk Festival in ‘76. The anti-rock stance, the detuned cheap guitars and invented chords all played with eyes locked on the frets as stiff fingers struggled to master the progressions. When Goddard sang ‘Nobody’s Scared’, he was signalling a split from the past generation, bemoaning the proven complacency of rock, its impotence and inability to evoke change. At that moment, Subway Sect didn’t care about rock & roll, still hanging in the air like stale beer and fags at a thousand dingy pub venues, they wanted to destroy it, the challenge for punk was clear; to blow down this musical Babylon.
It took the acrimonious break up of punk’s figurehead band enabling the momentary mix of three unique talents that as Public Image LTD, following the tentative and still well rooted in punk first album, gave birth to The Metal Box. When asked in retrospect to summarise the impact of Metal Box, Jah Wobble seemingly grandiose claim: ‘to music what Munch’s ‘The Scream’ was to art’, was in fact an accurate measure of the seismic influence the album has had. Proof that there was life beyond rock & roll and beyond punk, ‘Metal Box’ fused Dub with Kraut Rock, and even intimated at the ‘world music’ influences that would preoccupy Wobble and others in years to come.
Wobbles’ atomic sub bass, Levene’s Barrett-esque but metallic crashing guitar, Rotten at the very peak of his powers wailing inspired lyrics as waves of distorted synth noise swept through a stark industrial landscape. And there is some fucking great drumming here, despite the lack of acknowledgement, Martin Atkins unmistakable whip crack snare driving the longer tracks on in relentless rhythmic motion. Contributions on drums from both Wobble and Levene add to the improvised nature of the bulk of the album. All of this served as solid irrefutable evidence that PIL constituted the real post punk threat.
Other notable excursions that indicated that punk was about to navigate its way beyond the tabloid stereotype of gobbing, safety pins and Kings Road jousting tournaments with teddy boys, were recorded offerings from Wire and the Adverts.
Prior to PIL, punk had reached an early crossroads, but with only Jimmy Pursey left to direct the traffic it was bound to lose its way. With the birth of Oi, punk’s fate was sealed and the perception is now of a comedy of ‘Carry On’ proportions.
But what about today, where does the challenge to musical mediocrity come from today?
The baby punks, skinny-legged indie kids using the industry by-pass of ‘My Space’ like a latter day ‘Spiral Scratch’? The ‘three rehearsals/one gig/get signed’ piss-take emulating the jolly japes of the Pistols with the AR men whose cheque writing capacity would rival Chris Tarrant. There are some great bands about, some great music and the punk references are obvious but not superficial, it’s felt rather than just mere mimicry. Yeah, these bands are great, but isn’t it all too good, aren’t they are all too great looking, too sexy. There’s no hunched back asexual lead singers with bad sinuses, no bands that really can’t play their instruments and might sound better if they fell down the stairs holding them. You don’t ever feel threatened, or worried, unnerved or even slightly scared. You don’t feel like the boundaries are being redrawn, it’s not revolution, or evolution, its entertainment.
The old punks? Nah! We are just enjoying one last look back with some old friends/new converts and other punk historians before we pull on our slippers and hang up our bondage pants forever.
The challenge is coming from else where, from Noise, but the lineage back to punk is still professed by its main combatants.
Wolf Eyes have released almost everything they have ever played through their extensive DIY label activity. Until the recent release of ‘Human Animal’ - their second Sub Pop album - perhaps the most accessible had been, in terms of availability but by no means compromised in relation to content, the first Sub Pop release, ‘Burned Mind’. With track titles like ‘Stabbed in the Face’, ‘Urine Burn’ and ‘Black Vomit’ the album leaves you in no doubt where it’s going. This is not the dull studio based knob twiddling of experimental electronica – this is not ponderous, ambient or even subtle. This is full on horror punk overkill, so extreme in places your instincts will tell you to turn it off, get that unwanted gift/‘Muse’ album out of the bin, turn the lights down and burn some incense. It does all the aforementioned things good effective music should do: it worries, it threatens - and in places - it even scares you shitless.
Wolf Eyes are punk as it was: chaotic, shambolic, affected & affecting. Where creation requires a degree of destruction. It’s anti-rock - but retains rock traditions – hell, there’s even head banging at Wolf Eyes gigs as an acknowledgement of their debt to metal! It’s anti-industry, too - as the band is always in control – releasing stuff via its own labels - whilst exploiting the mainstream on their own terms. That’s revolution!
Dee Generate – tMx 27 – 11/06
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