Sunday, April 18, 2010
Destroy All Monsters, 74 76
Father Yod/Ecstatic Peace!, 1994; reissued by Compound Annex; available but limited
Three discs, each with its own title. Disc 1 ("Gospel Crusade"): 25 tracks, 71:19; disc 2 ("Crying In Bed"): 27 tracks, 69:11; disc 3 ("To The Throne Of Chaos Where The Thin Flutes Pipe Mindlessly"): 24 tracks, 66:54
When mentioned at all, Destroy All Monsters are generally considered a post-Stooges Ron Asheton project. With all respect due to the late Mr. Asheton, DAM were actually past their innovative prime by the time he joined! The original quartet of Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Niagara, and Jim Shaw assembled in winter of '74 with the intent of deconstructing rock music. Inspired in equal parts by European experimentation, proto-punk a la Stooges and MC5, and the outer realms of jazz, they created a truly unique sound that can't readily be assigned to a specific era. That being said, ths box does indeed cover the years 1974 to 1976; there's no indication as to whether the material is presented chronologically, but that's okay. Sure, there's a few fairly straightforward proto-punkers featuring Niagara's sultry vocals like "Vampire", "T.H. Queen" and "You Can't Kill Kill"; also, the apparently live version of "Shakin' All Over" is surprisingly faithful to the original. Don't be fooled, though; these concessions to accessibility are few and far between. The majority of these tracks are pure experiments in sound, whether it's the nightmarish tape manipulations of "Mom's and Dad's Pussy" or the self-explanatory "Drone" and "Crunch Drone". There's also room for dubby sound explorations and primitive drum machine exercises, along with nearly every other experimental style you can think of. It's almost impossible to pick standouts, since there is a LOT of material to pick through and even the lesser tracks are impressive with enough repeat listens. Keeping in mind that this predated punk and industrial as genres (to say nothing of later developments such as no wave), this is incredibly ahead of its time, and it's even more amazing to think none of this got released until 1994! About the only comparable contemporaries were Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle; there are definite similarities, but honestly all three were highly original outfits that started around the same time and were unaware of the others until later. In DAM's case, hardly anyone outside of the group itself was aware of their innovations until years later. Needless to say this comes highly recommended. While the reissue isn't as fancy as the original box, the music is all intact and it IS available again, and shouldn't that matter the most? Around '76 most of the members left except for Niagara, who continued Destroy All Monsters with new members (most notably Asheton and ex-MC5 bassist Michael Davis). This period of DAM is enjoyable, but don't expect it to sound a jot like the box. The original lineup has basically reformed and tours/records semi-regularly in their original proto-noise style.
Read the liner notes for this set (written by Mike Kelley himself) here: http://www.mikekelley.com/DAMthrone.html . http://www.mikekelley.com/compound.html has 74 76 for sale along with other DAM/Kelley-related products.