the very best from independent music podcasting

3/20/2005

TSR #5 - combatwoundedveteran

combatwoundedveteranIf Jackson Pollock's seemingly random and violent paint splashes across a canvas can be art, why can't combatwoundedveteran's seemingly random and violent noise be music?

If you listened to just the first few minutes of episode #16 of The Tragically Nameless Podcast and then, as host Deniz Rudin suggested you might, turned it off, then the following message is for you:

Go back and listen again.

I realize that it can be hard to make your way through the pained screams, wailing guitar, and random drumbeats, but only if you try to listen to it the way you would listen to what most of us think of as a "song"...something with a regular beat and a melody. You can no more listen to cwv's music with that mindset than you can look at Pollock's paintings the same way you would look at the Mona Lisa. Look at Pollock's Convergence and tell me what the white splotch top center means. Now listen to a cwv track and tell me what the lyrics mean.

cwv's music is meant to be experienced (note that I did not say "enjoyed") on a much more primal level than you are probably used to. Their music is meant to induce entirely visceral responses (including confusion, pain, and nausea) rather than tickling the same part of your auditory cortex that Yanni does. They extend the visceral experience beyond their music to their album and tracks names. "Rocks in a Blender" and "Disembowelment at Room Temperature" aren't really meant to describe the music; they evoke odd and disorienting visual images that prepare your brain for the oncoming aural assault. Added to this is the unmistakably ghoulish album art provided by Steak Mtn. Illustration and Design. If cwv wants to complete the experience, they should include some sort of horrifying scratch-n-sniff with their next album.

Although the Pollock comparisons work for the way in which you have to experience cwv's sounds, the response is probably much more like seeing Damien Hirst's suspended and dissected animal cadavers for the first time. We're disturbed. We look away. We take another peek. We're still disturbed but we start feeling a growing fascination. The more we look, the more sickened we are, but the harder it is to look away. Any artist producing a work called "A Thousand Years: Two Adjoining Vitrines Containing a Severed Cow's Head and a Colony of Maggots and Flies Breeding and Dying by an Insect-O-Cutor" probably understands what cwv is trying to do with their music.

Not all of it is total noise. Some tracks, like "15 Minutes on a Forklift" from their 2002 album Duck Down for the Torso, have an undercutting bass line that pulls you through the song as you are assaulted by frontman Ponch's vocals. Listening to this track, I felt like I was doing one of those dream-sequence slow-motion runs away from the vocals, and the drums and bass were my soundtrack. "It's got essentially random pounding and screaming, but a bassline going keeping it connected and timely, hacking into my rhythm sense," Deniz explained to me patiently, "so I have a beat to move to along with the chaos." Leave it to an articulate teenager who truly loves and understands hardcore to explain it far better than I could.

Here's the good news: It's okay to listen to this music and decide you never want to hear it again. But yes, if you fancy yourself a music lover, you have to listen once. Good luck.

Note to readers: You can download episode 16 of The Tragically Nameless Podcast directly by clicking here.