Friday, June 30, 2006

Hissing Prigs in Static Couture

Those who know me will know that I have no choice but to use my first post here to plug "Hissing Prigs in Static Couture," the final full length album from manic Ohio-ans Brainiac. Some people wonder what Jimi Hendrix would've done if he hadn't died young, or what Nirvana would've sounded like if Kurt hadn't killed himself: I always wonder what Brainiac could've become if Timmy Taylor hadn't died in 1997. They started in Dayton, Ohio in the early 1990's as a fairly standard punk rock outfit, but they quickly discovered Devo, the Moog synthesizer, and got the spectacularly talented John Schmersal (more recently and famously of Enon) to bring them into a totally different sound. "Hissing Prigs" essentially functions on two levels: on a basic rock level, and on a more experimental, electronic level. Certain tracks ("Status: Choke" and "70kg Man") find the band in a complete rage, churning out guitar riffs that sound like Sonic Youth 33's played at 45 rpm and Timmy spitting out dadaist terror as hard as he can. Others ("The Vulgar Trade" and "Strung") take the speed down, but make a solid case for anyone who says that a kid borrowing heavily from Stockhausen can't still pack a punch.

Still, what appeals to me most about Brainiac is that I feel like they were stepping forward into a new kind of music: that post-rock could have more gusto than Tortoise or Radiohead. What's always bothered me about most electronic music is that the sounds are so clean, so inorganic. Even when it tries to sound rough, it's still precise. Brainiac took their electronics to a place sloppy and wild enough to feel like they're still a rock band. Enon fans who are interested to see what Brainiac have to offer should probably start with "Electro-Shock for President," a 6-song EP recorded by uber-producer Jim O'Rourke (if you haven't heard of him, he's worked with every band you've ever heard of , ever), which is a little less pissed off, but no less good. "Hissing Prigs" can be abrasive upon a first listen, but the depth, care, and intelligence put into it comes out with time. They're not to be missed.