Three Mile Pilot

Circumcised

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This is a major collector's item; good luck digging this one up for cheap on eBay. Because not only is Three Mile Pilot still an underground password for indie rock at its finest, but this picture disc, released by Headhunter back in the early '90s, contains the type of 7" artistic craftsmanship that sets the collectors apart from the casual fans. Emblazoned with a giant propeller across a triangle set above the standard circular 7" format, this two-track single also features one of Chief Assassin to the Sinister's most bracing listens (since the Geffen release features what some might consider their greatest song, "Inner Bishop"). A complex arrangement of Armistead Burwell Smith's thunderous basslines, Tom Zinser's tireless drum atmospherics, and Pall A. Jenkins' lyrics bemoaning states of isolation and fragmentation so complete ("I can't find a landing deck for all my crashing jets") that the only resolution is no resolution ("It's the same place you've always been," Jenkins and Smith howl at the song's end), "Circumcised" is the type of tune that could carry a whole album if it had to. Not that it ever had to with Three Mile Pilot's full releases, but it does here: the B-side "Nussun" is more or less a de-structured exercise in atmosphere, featuring crackling radio static, instrumentalist Jim French's various contraptions, and Jenkins and Armistead Burwell Smith's scary incantations, which build to a climax a little after the casual listener might want it to. As an mood-setting opener -- as it is on Three Mile Pilot's B-side collection, Songs From an Old Town We Once Knew -- it works fine. As one song on a two-track collectible that might cost you some serious cash on eBay, it could work harder. But you're not really there to buy music are you? It's the cultural capital. Happy surfing.