Like a crowd of cavemen awestruck at seeing a wheel for the first time, a new bass riff is torturously trundled forwards, to the throb of auroch-skinned drums – the procession attracting a circling pack of wailing banshees from the surrounding mud huts, whilst a voice from the future is shouting ‘Nooooo, don’t progress, kill yourselves now!’ through a crack in the dark clouds above, but they either don’t understand the singer’s accent yet – sounding as it does like Albert Steptoe gargling bongwater – or, they think it merely divine encouragement, so carry on pushing regardless, making even more noise.
Featuring two well-knowners from the mid 80s Birmingham crust punk scene, the nihilistic LP ‘No You’ by Rainbow Grave was released in July this year, but I couldn’t bear to listen to it until now, not until I’d taken some buddhist advice and surrounded myself with white light first. Who’s in it, you ask? Well, when one of them isn’t fiddling with waveforms, messing with petrol in a shed, or shouting kind words of encouragement at up-and-coming live acts, he is busy in the band sculpting filthy bass riffs, riffs that are – through whatever process that is conducted here – stripped back to be exposed, vulgar, and permanently so.
The other, when not on the radio being really nice about up-and-coming acts, or in Facebook jail for some waggish prank, is busy with the other guitarist making a kind of dysfunctional rock and roll inferno, like Johnny Rivers after he’d died from a nerve disorder, and came back as a zombie session musician. Think Locust Abortion Technician sludge, but with every nasty modulating effects pedal from the 1980s chained into the signal, the resulting tremor making the album I just compared them to sound, quite frankly, like The Best of Frank Sinatra. Also, think of the structures as primal, yet filled with a tumbling cloud of semi-chaotic detail, and under that bubbling layer of sonic filth, they even sometimes, somehow, manage to slip Nik Turner‘s saxophone from Masters of the Universe in too? Huh??
As a band project, you can hear that the six songs that make up No You are the result of some considerable time and effort. It’s good music that has been through some process of refinement, even if it was layered with ideas and then brutally cut back to the bone. Lyrically, however, ‘I hate your shoes, I hate your face’, and ‘die…!’ is devastatingly to the point, and one might suspect, straight from the heart?
Like so many horrible things in life, this is both unfunny, and hilarious at the same time. If you ever cross these charming men live, just make sure you have uppers!