Monday, April 4, 2011

Ringo DeathStarr

OK, now that I've had a chance to listen to the new Ringo Deathstarr a couple of times, let me talk about why I'm excited over it:
Have you ever noticed how people at a certain age calcify a bit? For example, the basketball fan, who still lionizes the team and players he liked when he was 20? A much closer example- Classic rock radio for baby boomers. Listening to nothing made past 1980, for 20 years, because "today's music ain't got the same soul" is exactly the kind of calcification I mean. Of course I suffer from that a bit. For me, it's the alternative Rock just barely pre-grunge. In some ways, my aesthetics stopped in 1990. Fortunately, it's not total for me, and I have enjoyed music that would not even be possible in 1991. Some of that even has aesthetics that run counter to the music I liked in 1988. For example, I don't think you'll find much ground between Sleigh Bells-styled noise pop and Killing Joke. However, I have just enough sediment hardening in the old taste buds that I do think that we're seeing the waning years of rock aesthetics. I just don't see a whole lot radically new and different coming down from that particular pike.
So, enough mixing metaphors- the situation is that Ringo Deathstarr have a reputation for sounding exactly like My Bloody Valentine, circa Loveless. If they did, I would still like them- I can think of few things that I would like to do more than mastering such a sublime sound. However, the truth seems a little bit off from that. Yes, there is a very lot of MBV in their sound- but it's tempered with the punk rush of Jesus and Mary chain. There's some buzzsaw underneath the woozy oceans of processed guitars. There are others who get just as close to the "Loveless' sound- Asobi Seksu, and Blonde Redhead spring to mind. But all of the others seem to concentrate more on the shimmery wallow of the feedback, and less on that incredible right hand tremolo of Kevin Shields. The real similarity between Ringo Deathstarr and say, Asobi Seksu, lies in the breathy little girl vocals buried under echoes that owe a lot to Bilinda Butcher. However, if we look past that, Ringo Deathstarr is a very different band, indeed.
So, yes, there is a lot of My Bloody Valentine on this record. Again, I'm good with that. However, there's a fair amount of Jesus and Mary Chain, some New Order, and even a little bit of Boris in there as well. They play faster, and with more aggression than most of those influences, though. So, is it nostalgic? More than a bit. However, given the prevalence of at least a Shoegazer influence in bands from Silversun Pickups to Best Coast to Isis, I'd say that the nostalgia quotient is arguable. It would appear to be quite contemporary, as well- Ringo Deathstarr are thus much more "purists' than 'revivalists". Yes, that sounds somewhat perverse, given the band's careless attitude- but here's what I mean- rather than being a shoegaze influenced band, or a "nugaze' band, they are trying to be as purely about the shoegaze sound as were the original bands. When I think of a 'revival" - it's about trying to bring something back- about carrying something forward into the present tense. When i think of a "purist" is about trying to isolate and preserve something- about keeping it out of the present tense. In either sense, it's a kind of time travel wish- the revivalist wants to bring the past back around, while the purist wants to stop time.
All that is probably getting far too esoteric- here's the hard and fast Aristotelian reality- Ringo Deathstarr play loud, lush, uptempo heavily distorted post punk with digital effects. I rather like that sound whether we're talking 1987, 1997, 2007 or probably 2017. So, despite the fact that this may reflect something about my age and character, I'm just as excited as I was in 1991....

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