Thursday, September 15, 2005

Leyton Orient 2 Bristol Rovers 3 (Brisbane Road, 90 mins): Flyblown "Genocide-Genocide" (On The Verge, vinyl-only LP)

Everything's urgent, all the time. Sigh. Enough of work. There are a couple of exciting things (to me) anyway, to recount.

First, a double album's worth of material on a sunny Saturday lunchtime in eastern Zone 3 as the one-man team that is Bristol Rovers overpowered the fading O's. The ground continues to be ruined / rebuilt (delete as applicable), the uncovered away terrace sadly a distant memory as new stands appear, ever more incongrous while the team formerly known purely as, er, Orient (halcyon times: remember John Chiedozie ?) continue to fester in the fourth division. Bizarrely, there appear to be huge, hotel-size edifices going up within the ground itself, in the corners in between stands: quite who would sanely want to live, work or holiday within the confines of a "League Two" stadium is unclear. Those of you who have seen the truly dramatic and impressive Death Star mega-bowl rise from an empty shell in N5 can be reassured that the cranes of Leyton are working to more modest plans. Anyway, despite the ongoing opprobrium from his own fans, which is now par for the course, Ian Atkins got the tactics right: keep lumping the ball up to Agogo, defend like hell the rest of the time, and the Accra-born big man is bound to win it for you so long as his team-mates keep their pitiful defensive capitulations to a minimum. The first goal saw Junior cross for Craig Disley to head in on the quarter-hour; the second a penalty, into the second half, won and converted by JA after the usual canter through the opposition back line. Cue defensive calamity number one and a goal back for Barry Hearn's charges, increasing the tension until the next sliced clearance up to Agogo on the halfway line: he waltzed past the last defender, rounded a 'keeper who had wandered forty yards from the goal he'd been tending and, after gleefully strolling a bit closer towards the Orient fans behind it, with the pig's bladder at his feet and acres of unguarded turf around him, rolled it into the empty onion bag. By the time it crossed the line we'd been celebrating the certainty of going 3-1 up for a good 10 seconds. This being Rovers 2005 vintage, there was of course time for us to concede another daft goal to meet the statutory quota and cue five minutes of frantic, tragi-comic tension, but when it came, it was, for once, job done. And we saw the net billow three times.

Equally compelling is the best album I've heard this year. You'll recall, way back when, pop and politics' difficult 163rd phase: the whole Britcore madness which Peel mentored through the various late 80s sessions at Maida Vale: bands like Doom, cutting straight to the chase by adopting punk's bleak, questioning bluster and delivering battering ram tunes like "Bury The Dead, Not The Debt" (favourite lyric: "Barclays / Midlands / Lloyds / Nat West - fuck off!") and "Life In Freedom, Governed By Equality" ("OPPOSE Clause 28!") It took a while, but you can probably trace a line right from Doom and the Heresy / Extreme Noise Terror / Napalm Death axis of polemical post-skateboard grindcore, right through to the visceral Scalplock, whose "Spreading The Germs" retrospective provides one of the most explicit (and, I promise you, rewarding) recent marriages of straight political content and unrelenting thrash brutality.

This gets me to Flyblown, the post-Scalplock trio formed by Pete Giles (while we're doing the Rock Family Trees thing, he was of course a founder member of Unseen Terror, who are now quite rightly legendary for their fuzzy, hardcore-meets death sound, as well as their obsession with Garfield the cat). Flyblown's "Genocide-Genocide" album, which by pure fluke I managed to track down in Berwick Street having assumed I would never find a copy, is the hungriest, most sincere political record I've heard for ages, resolutely off the pace of the mainstream. As such, I must commend it to you utterly. For, after an introductory mosh to warm us up, "The Doves Do Not Fly Here Anymore" takes a vice-like grip, with breakneck drumming and frantic shrieking, before "State Murder, State Oppression" has a more convential Discharge-style title as well as what I, at least, am prepared to term a singalong chorus. Already, the blows seem to be raining down, and as the songs largely jump headlong into one another (there are, in all, 21 in a little under nineteen minutes), the effect is multiplied: "Strength To Conquer All" bristles, adopting the same chaotic pace before calming slightly for another few seconds' moshing reprieve. And still they come (the tunes), thick and fast: the blur of righteous indignation that is Side One showcasing further peaks like "Independent State of Seminal Change": even in this market, rarely has so much been done with 17 seconds; "Never Forget To Fight", another highlight with a near-singalong "Liberty! Equality!" refrain; the Doom-like torrent of "Societal Prison" (Doom are a much under-rated band, but at least one who get props from Flyblown) and "Liberty and Deceit", where the cascading chords again echo the likes of Discharge, but the tunes - well, the riffs, whatever - aren't even hidden. That's not even to mention "Servitude", in which Pete's banshee yell "THIS IS OUR PAIN! AND OUR DISPLEASURE!" (ha, that's the link with Bristol Rovers) banishes all cobwebs within a mile radius of your turntable.

After the de facto "interval" of comparative solitude and calm constituted by the need to turn the record over and cue it up again, Side Two hardly disappoints: it's as if you'd never been away, from "At The End Of A Gun", which takes a distorted American anthem and barbed spoken intro and speeds them into more controlled mayhem, right through to the fearsome rancour of "No Time", bass, drums and guitar swelling and crashing against each other. In between, plenty more highlights - "Blind Leading The Blind" has an over-literal title, being a diatribe against our former Home Secretary, although that shouldn't obscure its fine guitar, coruscating production (the production throughout the record is edgy, raw and fearless) or the fact that it is lyrically as relevant as ever given the latest thinking of the Home Office's greatest minds on immigration and anti-terrorism issues. It's over in a minute, with a parting shout of "BLUNKETT!" and in its place come the two parts of "Social Pollution" - the first throws more kerosene over the fire already raging across your speakers, but the second slows things down dramatically, with moodier music, plaintive (if still direct) lyrics, the guitars treading an almost industrial mid-pace. "Torn From The Land" is even better as it does fast and slow within a single vehicle - after helter-skelter riffs, things subside after half a minute to allow more slower-paced sentiments over feedback-hued beauty: again, the lyrical theme focuses on the displaced who flee persecution to find a wilful barrage of misunderstanding from countries like ours. What else ? "Crossed Out" sets about trendy wretches and their designer label fads and fetishes; "Smell the Apathy" is another, grinding, classic - more singalong-a-Flyblown and perhaps my favourite riff of the whole album; and "Rotten To The Core" leapt out at me some months ago when they previewed it on one of those Terrorizer magazine free CDs... Anyway, along with the Scalplock LP and the Venomous Concept one from last year, "Genocide-Genocide" is as good as it gets.

listening to:

Dr Alimantando "Careless Ethiopians Repent". Textbook.
Burning Spear "Civilised Reggae". Handsome.
Unseen Terror "Uninformed" Headnoddingly svelte, from their "Human Error" set - like Heresy, except, as I said, with kind of detuned, almost death-y guitars.
McCarthy "Keep An Open Mind Or Else": The session recording from "That's All Very Well But...", more shimmery, almost Bodines-y, but you still get the hamsterish vocal for which the single version is justly infamous.
Cockney Rejects "The Rocker". Wow. Once they were the Kaiser Chiefs of their day, then they practically invented Raging Speedhorn. This is the moment, caught in crystal, when their lurch from punk to metal began.
The Visitors "Goldmining": Even better than the Sportique version :-)
Tindersticks "City Sickness". Thinking back to why this hooked me the first time: it sounds like Mike Flowers would if he covered the Pastels. Which he should. I'm only sick of the City mind, not the city (lower case 'c'). Never the city.

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