Blackbird [Iloki 1988]

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Chip and Tony Kinman are a couple of strange (black) birds, or maybe chameleons. Blackbird are as far removed from their last group, Rank and File, as Rank and File were to their band before that, the Dils. In essence, they sound nothing like their previous incarnations, yet some stylistic things remain. This debut LP is much like their live show -- just drum machine, Tony's bass, and Chip's guitar, and mostly Tony's wondrously low (as in low) bassy vocals with Chip harmonizing with him as they have so splendidly for a decade. Chip's guitar destroys, with deadly, almost gaseous feedback and rip-socket chords; he's almost like an old blues guitarist who was given shock treatment until he lost his noodle, in a plethora of the most twisted, bent, bone-crushing sounds. Tony sings as if he were playing with a "normal" guitarist, so some sense of "song" and melody is always present around the atonal, warped guitar phrasings, the spatterings, splatterings, and psychosis-out-of-an-amp. Sometimes you think that no new ground can be broken; you hear countless noise/industrial dirges and electronic/magnetic dance blips, and every ambitious, subversive muso-punk new age avant-garde surrealism on a search-and-destroy pop mission, and so on and so forth, but this noise is new and definitely fresh. In the Kinmans' case that's par for the course, given the Dils' place in U.S. punk history (as the first politically minded one, too), and that Rank and File single-handedly opened the door for inferior country acts to make the real dough. Though abrasive in places, this LP is thoroughly enjoyable, a whopper of a new-sounding LP. It'll beat the stuffing out of you and make you insanely happy. "Time to Go" alone beats the Stooges' ten-minute space trips at their own game, without losing the listener in the process. If you happen to see this album, you know what to do.

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