Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Big Black-Songs About Fucking





"During the 80s, along with other contemparies such as Sonic Youth and Ministry, Steve Albini’s Big Black were branded ‘Pig***’ music by music critic Robert Christgau. The term gives off a particular dark feel of music that is loud, harsh and most importantly of all, noisy. Big Black sound unique and there is quite a lot of factors that add to why it’s so unique. First point, there is no real drums on here, there is only a drum machine (noted in the liner notes as “Roland” respectively). And my second point is Albini’s special production techniques; he is faithful to the analog way of recording (though in 1987, I’m sure there was no other option), the drums must always sound live which means lots of lovely reverb, the guitars must be filthy raw and the most important trait of an Albini recording is that the vocals are low in the mix. This has helped shaped many albums but most of all and most importantly, Songs About Fucking.

Words cannot describe how violent this album is; the guitars are drenched and drowned with fuzz making it hard to pick out any clear guitar line, the drum machine usually gives off a jack hammer effect and Albini sings with such brutality that it sounds fierce even with the vocals low in the mix. The songs go by fast with most of them not reaching the typical three minute barrier. The songs are packed with controversy fuelling Albini’s desire to offend. Who else could write a song like “Fish Fry” about a man cleaning out his truck after throwing a dead body into a pond from it? And who else would have the balls to cover the Kraftwerk classic “The Model” and possibly make a version that is nearly as good as the original? Big Black are certainly one of a kind and Songs About Fucking is the magnum opus of their career.

What makes the album what it is, is the tight rhythm section from Dave Riley and Roland the drum machine. They provide the basis of the songs with the static, fuzzing guitars obliterating any ounce of silence. A sense of joy tingles up the spine with the jack hammer intro of “L Dopa”, the jumping bass line of “Kitty Empire” or even the balls out approach to the second half of “Power of Independent Trucking”. All the tracks have some sort of special moment to them and it makes each track a worthwhile listen.

Songs About Fucking is a classic, it is influential to many other bands but what stops it from getting top marks is that the second side doesn’t live up to the first side. Even Abini notes: “The best was side one of 'Songs About ***ing'. I was real pleased with the way we did that. We just hopped into the studio, banged all the songs out and hopped out. Didn't take long, didn't cost much, just real smooth. Side two we recorded at a more leisurely pace and I think that hurt us.” The second side has a fair share of astounding songs but none of them live up to the sheer brilliance or intensity of the first side. Any fan of punk music or industrial music will enjoy this a lot. If it’s not the warmth of the sound that sucks you in then it will be the force of it all. Albini has made his best album with this and while projects like Shellac or Rapeman pertain to this sort of sound, it has never beat it."


This is a nasty album in the best way possible. As violent as any album I've heard. Listen to it loud.

Fuck me

1 comment:

Khaosz[] said...

wow, this album blew me away. Excellent!!!