Monday, January 10, 2011

//Tense// Turn it Off on Mishka Records

Mishka Records sent over their latest release, #002 from the band //Tense// out of Texas.
First of all go read their great review of //Tense's// 10" it was a while back and must have been the impetus for pressing this single. Excellent music critique in all things Ministry...I actually found that first full length from those guys on Wax Trax in a Salvation Army and really thought there was a completely different band out there called Ministry in the late 80's after hearing it. I didn't know Al completely wrote that one off...of course it's very different, but I would think that audience would want to know where it all started...why even keep the name then?
I think that's an example of how much music distribution has changed in the last 20 years. There was pressure from people behind the scenes with no business giving their opinions....if their workplace is anything like mine...and that is definitely gone for a band now where Ministry was at that point. I think you could say music as a whole is more artistically pure than it's ever been, the methods of recording and distribution are completely homegrown affairs. It hurts more than it helps to be on a big label.

The A-Side, "Turn it off" is cold, dark electronics but not in that unrelateable psychopathic, weirdo, future way. This is really accessible, relying on dance beats and vocals that are echoed in the traditional style of the genre, far off, down in the cellar. This might be closer to Crystal Castles than Blank Dogs...they seem to be moving butts, instead of people towards the exits because they're terrified.
The hyper electronic glitch sounds and chorusy synths on this track are squeaky clean sounding....and that makes perfect sense for this era. No one was in love with the shit sound of their home equipment yet. As is the case with Kraftwerk I want to hear every 1 and 0 (and on analog vinyl, I know it makes no really makes less and less sense to hear something super electronic on vinyl, but I can't argue with my turntable).
Blessure Grave, their previous release, still feels extreme...even more so in retrospect and //Tense// is equally as extremist in sticking authentically to that their vision of the '80's.

The B-Side, 'The Chain' is a Fleetwood Mac cover for gods sake. It updates the Mac track by only 5 or 10 years though... it stays so true to that late '80s sound, there isn't a misstep or out of place sound anywhere. The handclaps and bongo sounds where the early machines were trying so hard to imitate an organic sound they accidentally became their own sound. It's become another tool that's never going away... the 808, the 909 they will be drum kits forever in every app or piece of hardware from now until the end of time. //Tense// is building these era authentic tracks...and they get points for completely deconstructing the original song to the point that it's completely unrecognizable.
How does that era keep being influential? Was it because the '80s was all about looking ahead towards an unrealistic optimistic future? The synth and these thin percussion sounds are typical of this failure of those promises and how ridiculous this optimism now feels (and sounds).
That's why I think the A-Side works the best for me. To make something interesting out of the sounds of utter failure. The hair bands/new nu was an era of unreal persona's on top of a fake wonder it fell apart the year punk broke.
To re-contextualize this cool, dance sound into something ominous is a logical way to look back at that's more realistic.

Mishka is obviously passionate about the labels neo-cold wave direction and the Blessure Grave single was an incredible launch for this laser focus vision.
The world could use a label that's curating a specific collection like this in the 7" format from bands that are either just starting to work with these sounds or have been 20 years ago.

These tracks are both labeled 45rpm edits of what could very well be longer club versions. On blood red opaque vinyl from Mishka Records with a pretty sweet honcho magazine centerfold from 1982 with a steak for a face. Isn't that dude already a piece of meat?

Get the limited edition red vinyl, with shirt from MishkaNYC.

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