Thursday, September 17, 2009

Harvey Milk-The Singles (2006)

"Who would've though this would ever come to pass?! Those of you who love things slow and sludgy and heavy, should be on your knees, thanking whatever god you pray to, for allowing this divine musical covenant to be placed in your dirty, filthy unworthy hands!
Harvey Milk were Atlanta's answer to the Melvins, but slowed waaaaaaaay down and spaced waaaaaay out. Songs so spare but somehow so impossibly heavy, riffs so thick that they threaten to clog your speakers and rhythms so stretched out that they can barely be called rhythms. Add in a serious free jazz + ZZ Top obsession and you've got the recipe for one of the greatest, heaviest bands EVER. They recorded two brilliant full lengths (with their original lineup), one of which was re-issued on Andee's tUMULt label a couple years ago. And we thought then, sadly that we had heard the end of HM forever. But along comes Relapse to save the day, collecting all of Harvey Milk's impossibly rare 7"s and compilation tracks onto one black-hole-heavy chunk of aluminum. Most singles collections allow you to trace the development of a band, watching them slowly turn into the band you already know and love, but this collection proves that HM spontaneously combusted, emerging from their tarpit womb a fully formed, lumbering, molten, sludge rock colossus. From plodding, 3 mph sludgy, dirgey Melvins's worship, to chaotic noisy caveman thud, to Codeine-ish slow motion mood rock, to spare, rhythmic bass and drums space-scapes with demonic, anguished howls and Hendrix like riffs dipped in tar and sprinkled with wild peals of head-shearing feedback, to semi-acoustic tear jerkers, with warbly barely-in-key vocals, I mean, they even do a fucking Peter Criss solo song! How brilliant is that! Harvey Milk confounds as much as they just flat out destroy. How the fuck does a three piece rock band actually sound like they're playing on the wrong speed?! It's as if the entire band had a pitch control knob, and they keep turning it down and down and dooooown. And playing drums for this band must be utter hell. Massive expanses of space, demarcated by pounding beats, spread so far apart they just barely make up a rhythm, with enough space between beats for the drummer to get up, go to the bar, have a cigarette, and make it back in plenty of time for the next beat. So minimal and hypnotic and difficult and heavy, it just blows all other sludge rock hopefuls back to the stone age. And even in the context of a 'singles collection', songs that were never meant to be together on a record, this stuff falls so perfectly into place, you would never know this wasn't conceived as a proper record. Yet another testimony to the under-appreciated genius of the mighty Harvey Milk. Liner notes from AQ pal and Chunklet head honcho Henry Owings. Essential for those of you who love Boris, Corrupted, Earth, SUNNO))) and the like, as well as their massively head crushing opus Courtesy And Goodwill Towards Men!"

God what a fucking nasty band. I could go on forever. Everything from the bone crushing riffs to the earthquake bass rumble to the drum abuse that could split boulders to that fucking HOWL. Creston Spiers is easily one the most intense, heartfelt, honest vocalists in all of music. This band strikes one hell of a cord. You'd do well to get it.

Harry Owens from Chunklet deserves lifelong respect for being such an incessant Harvey Milk fanboy and getting all of these old unavailable 7" tracks together for mass consumption. Music fans are better off for it. A sincere thank you.

I do not know how to live my life


Anonymous said...

Not for nothing, man, but it's Henry Owings.

Zoltar said...

Noted. My bad.