At 70 minutes, this release – which combines the The Day Everything Became Nothing
EP and the Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed
album (both 1988) - might well be the most exhausting one I’ll ever review.
Mind you, it’s not bad or uninspired, not even a step down from the band's previous album. It’s just that the album is so hard to take in, both lyrically and musically, that listening to it becomes a chore.
While there are certainly instances of Nomeansno's hardcore personality, the main emphasis lies on mid-tempo rockers, most of which have an epic length (several exceeding 7 minutes, and the frighteningly intense “Real Love” approaching 10 minutes), else a multi-sectioned structure that never allows the listener to really get a blast out of it.
That doesn’t imply all the songs aspire to Zappa-esque complexity, as the band aren't obsessed by weird time signatures or ridiculously complex structures. The EP’s title track for example, alternates grooving sections with machine-gun hammering, and has typically nonsensical NMN-lyrics that allude to earlier tracks.
The best song on the EP is probably “What Slayde Says”, whose infectious bass melodies by Rob Wright dominate the entire track, while climactic parts regularly up the ante. “Dead Souls” on the other hand is a short blast of furious hardcore punk with cartoonish lyrics. “Forget Your Life” is a slowly-thudding slab of rawk, one that points to the grand epics of their next album, while the goofy “Beauty and the Beast” marries Gang of Four with The Residents and other assorted weirdness.
The album opener “Dark Ages” is definitely another highlight of this release, immediately setting the tone with some incredibly tight musicianship. Weirdly enough, the verses - and especially the singing - sound like an early 80’s British wave band, while at other times the band come across as prog/funk. Tracks like “Junk”, “And That’s Sad”, and “Small Parts Isolated and Destroyed” are much harder to get into though ... all three contain sudden tempo-shifts, changing rhythmical patterns, unsettlingly angular sections, peculiar vocals (the Goth-like ones in “And That’s Sad” are even annoying), and a density of ideas that - whilst impressive - are also hard to take in.
by Reviewer: Guy Peters
(blogging at Guy's Music Review Site