Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bass bits 3. The day everything became nothing

Another bass-driven hardcore band that reached their creative peak around the late 80s and early 90s and around whom, mysteriously, no critical consensus as to their excellence has coalesced is of course, No Means No.

The album Wrong remains as good as anything from the time, while the Blast First retinue were lionized partly because the smart, Vorticist-inspired branding and post-industrial/ experimental/no-wave pedigree of many of its bands fit the bill for smart, arty, leftfield attempts to revivify rock(ism) other less readily theorizable but no less exhilarating or experimental bands were relegated to second or third  division as lumpen hardcore, naive or simplistic  aggro music for the dog-on-a-string brigade, moshing music for the unwashed.

No means No were on the unfashionable Alternative Tentacles, Jello Biafra's label and as such, suspect, retrograde, tarred no doubt by association with The Biafran sensibility, (a sensibility that to be fair inflects most anarchism) painful self-righteousness combined with laboured Situationist wackiness (see; Chumbawamba). No means No might on first glance appear to be proponents of The Wacky, technically brilliant musicians “subversively” squandering their gifts as a repudiation to the sad, co-opted straight world of “success”/ the Industry and expecting to be celebrated for such (see; Ween), but any serious engagement with their work, saturated in dread, caustic surrealism and straight romantic yearning along with a dynamically inventive approach to the form that pushed hardcore right up against the limits of funk, prog, jazz and metal without ever spilling over into math-rock or other dry attempts at “complexity” and hybridization should rapidly rebut any such association. They remained fun, funny, powerful, ingenious, surprising, moving, perplexing; ranged widely without ever losing the essential elements of their own unique take on life and their chosen genre. You might call that the very definition of the fully achieved artist.
All bass dance-floor filler from the Phono's hardcore night circa 1988. Killer bass, killer guitar, killer lyrics. ditto non-Wrong bangerz (this list is potentially huge so I content myself with three more.) Worldhood also a strong contender for best NMN album.

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