Various Artists

The End of Music as We Know It

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The End of Music As We Know It was producer/engineer Mykel Board's attempt to document, for ROIR (Reachout International Records), the noise rock scene of the late '80s (particularly the downtown N.Y.C. faction thereof). All of the tracks were recorded specifically for the release by Kramer (Bongwater, Shimmy Disc) at famed indie studio Noise New York. Each band was given two hours to lay down a tune or two. The results are decidedly mixed, but the experiment was a worthy one, particularly since most are unavailable elsewhere and two of the bands were formed just for the project. They include Bank of Sodom, featuring Jello Biafra (the Dead Kennedys), and David Licht (Shockabilly) and Needlenose, featuring members of Live Skull (including vocalist Thalia Zedek). Some of the tracks are, quite frankly, fairly unlistenable, but noise rock -- or scum rock, as it was sometimes called -- was meant to be challenging and confrontational. It should come as little surprise, then, that the most successful cuts just happen to be covers: Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore with an extended solo jam on VU's "European Son" and Needlenose's take on Fats Waller-by-way-of-the Rolling Stones' "The Spider and the Fly." Former members of noise rock luminaries the Swans appear in Prong (Ted Parsons) and Of Cabbages and Kings (Algis Kizys), and Pussy Galore in the Honeymoon Killers (Christina Martinez, later of Boss Hog) and Royal Trux (Neil Hagerty). Liner notes are provided by Board and producer/musician Steve Albini (Big Black), who was given free rein to say whatever he wanted -- a refreshing change of pace. Consequently, he praises some bands and damns others. Jad Fair, for instance, "is God, and therefore infallible," whereas Jello Biafra is a "whiner"; Black Snakes are "humorless, self-obsessed and stupid"; and Krackhouse make "pseudo-intelligent vocal farting sounds." Board, for his part, describes the end result as "a spontaneous, death-dealing din," as apt a description as any. Whether that's a good thing or not is another matter entirely.

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