Country Dumb

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Since Gone is the instrumental trio of ex-Black Flag mastermind/guitar-ripper Greg Ginn going back 13 years, you know you're going to get pyrotechnic playing commensurate with the thick, hissing blaze he infused into punk. But the new wrinkle on Country Dumb is the hard-driving, furious dance-rhythm drum machines, like those found in so much of the best post-punk of the early '80s. Had someone claimed these were uncovered Big Black and Red Lorry Yellow Lorry outtakes, all scrapped before vocals could be recorded, I'd have fallen for it. Given this new base, Ginn's blizzard of chords and mutilated strings are given fresh life, especially on songs such as "Cut Your Hair, Drink Coors," where his multi-tracked, gnashing parts play off each other in well-matched call/response fashion, and then he drops them out altogether in a surprise aural break. (Note, all the songs have teasing titles such as "Big Government, Small Mind," "Rage Against Intelligence" -- a slap at a certain Sony band? -- "Another Existential Excuse," "Paula Jones Clinton," and "Hip Castro Conservative," that make you wish Ginn wrote words for them!) There remains an air of bebop jazz-inspired freeform to Gone's rock, but with the tighter wound bass and drums providing a stronger anchor, Ginn's wandering sounds more a rage against the night of musical myopia than aimless drifting.

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