Gogogo Airheart

Gogogo Airheart [1997]

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On their 1998 self-titled debut album, the elements that eventually made Gogogo Airheart's sound so striking are all in evidence. The basement-quality production, unpredictable time signatures and tempo shifts, and Michael Vermillion's scratchy, screechy vocals are all here, although the band hadn't quite found the right balance of these sounds yet. A dark, grotto-like quality permeates the album, particularly on heavily dub-influenced tracks like the opening "C8/...'Programme'," "Elgin Marbles," and "A Book of Dress." While these songs have a certain hypnotic quality, they also have very little of the spark that ignites the band's best work. Tracks like the brief punk outburst on "November, November" and "Jukebox Capitol" -- the phased guitars and vocals on which suggest a prog punk hybrid -- veer off in completely opposite directions, yet both point toward the band's eventual style more than most of the first half of the album does. Likewise, whimsical electronic instrumentals such as "Distance" and "Positions Are Not Popular" hint at the band's latent talents for melodies and arrangements, albeit in a completely different way than the other songs do. It's not until Gogogo Airheart's second half that the band gets down to business and starts delivering the angular, danceable art punk on which they built their later reputation, but songs like "Red-Dial, Re-Dial," "Community, Continuity, Insecurity" and "Take the Structure" are worth the wait. While some of the album's recorder-grot experiments and the generally underdeveloped, unfocused feel give Gogogo Airheart a lower signal-to-noise ratio than the band's subsequent albums, it is an admirably ambitious debut, the promise of which Gogogo Airheart delivered on a very short time later.

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