Monday, June 6, 2011

Blight-Blight EP (1982)

 Like many teenage males who preferred the cozy womb of punk to the terror of socializing and talking to girls,  I spent most of high school trolling through the back catalogues of early '80s record companies like Touch & Go, Dischord, Dangerhouse, SST, et. al. You've got your obvious heavy hitters: Negative Approach, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Bad Brains, Necros...and then you have Blight.
Composed of ex-members of two of Detroit's pioneering HC groups, The Fix and Meatmen, these guys never registered in my 17-year old peregrinations through the necropolis of American HC. Besides the fact that I didn't know these 'uns existed until this week (thank you, Can't Stand the '80s , from whom I'm reposting this), it's easy to see why:
This is squalid, grinding, static sheetmetal music. All the forward momentum and cathartic rage of hardcore have been stripped away to reveal a twisting, thrashing rubbish bin of noise. In place of 4'4 time, basic rock structures speeded up to the point of oblivion, you have shuffling feedback, intermittently audible, plunking bass lines, and Tesco Vee mewling and whining over it all. The EP begins with a clip from MLK Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, which precedes a sludgy feedback porridge ("The Dream Was Dead"). "Bludgeon" is just that: hammer-drumming, gong samples, and Tesco burbling, "bludgeon fucking death!...." The standout track is "Seven Winds Over the Gobi Desert," which really sounds like Flipper's "Sex Bomb," with Tesco blooping out trumpet riffs over the usual squall.
 Many of the first generation bands of American HC, after learning how to play their instruments,  morphed into metal wankery(Circle Jerks, SSD, FUs) or precious, precocious proto-indie (Embrace, Greg Ginn's various post-Flag projects, Dag Nasty). Not so Tesco & co. Eschewing such fancy-schmancy progression, they moved backwards, echoing Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and Mars more than the above-mentioned.
Yet Blight's sound is quintessentially midwestern noise: stripped of the arty pretensions of the No Wave set (although I've always thought that Tesco & Lydia Lunch deserved each other), this is unintellectualized, unreflective, plodding, clever-stupid sonic snarkiness in the fine tradition of the Touch & Go fanzine (no shit, right?) and such geniuses as Ben Weasel. Blight is what happens when a bunch of Lansing natives who never went to art school but were certainly too smart for their own good got bored with aggressive speed and turned the electrodes on themselves. In fact, "Blight" was a great name: this is hardcore suffering from a necrotic flesh wound.
So go on, slam a sixer of Milwaukee's Best, smoke your bag of nutmeg that dude in seventh period told you was hash, and revel in their majesty here.

*EDIT, 1.6.14: I re-up'd the EP. Feast on it HERE. *

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