Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Crawlspace - The Spirit of 76

While on other outings Crawlspace appeared to be a rock'n'roll band with a penchant for noise, on The Spirit of 76 they seem to have succumbed to the call of Cthulhu and embraced chaos fully. Like a mix of the Shaggs and the MC5, although whereas the MC5 would teeter on the edge of madness, Crawlspace freely leaps into the void. As with Kenne Highland's (fellow Gizmos) cover painting, the spirit of Rob Tyner and American r'n'r blends with pure primitiveness.

Here Crawlspace is comprised of Eddie, Greg Hajic and Joe Dean and maybe due to the fact that there is no "official" drummer, it is all considerably more chaotic than, say, Ignorance is Bliss, that had the great Bob Lee holding things together.The opening "Theme For a Wet T-shirt Contest" is almost indecipherable - not that that's a bad thing! They do give O. Rex a run for their money on Kenne Highland's "Califawnia Gurls", though this version may be a bit more coherent than the original and, after more than 30 years in the state, Eddie has more right to the frustration of the tune than Highland did after just visiting. I'm not familiar with the Mark Lindsay song "Just Seventeen", but the loose, primitive beat (that barely keeps time) and trashy garage abandon has to be far rawer than the original! Mixing Patti Smith and the Leaves, "Hey Joe" has layers of guitar (including a hip slide part) but no percussion save for some buried tambourine. Patrick Sky's "Fight For Liberation" is a banjo-led, Irish sing-along freedom song followed by the original "Take Your War on Vacation", the closest to a straight rock'n'roll tune here.

The classic Holland/Dozier/Holland "Leaving Here" is turned into a shambolic, disquieting detonation that somehow maintains its backbeat. Even more unlikely is Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'", which starts off pretty straight forward before dissolving into a racket of disjointed drumming and vocals fighting each other to remember the words and keep the song on track, all with limited success as it eventually turns into a wash of percussive morse-code-ish guitar and bass explosions. Never losing their sense of humor, we get Bid Daddy Roth's "Rat Fink" before another original composition, "Never Never", a Velvet-y, down-tuned, drone-y number which allows everyone to make some explorations.

I'm afraid that I don't know Mike Pocius or his "Chemicals in the Mail", though musically it is essentially "Fortune Teller" with a very different subject matter! They return to their punk rock roots for the Saints' "Erotic Neurotic", which is cut short but reasonably true to the original. After swiping "Two Headed Dog" for a moment, the band melds into a riotous take on "Sympathy For the Devil" with the band seemingly never sure whether they should keep going or not - though they soldier on before becoming an unrelated free-noise-jam and ending with minutes of white noise.

This is Crawlspace at its most challenging - which makes it a truly interesting record, but not easily accessible. But if you appreciate musicians who aren't afraid to take chances, look into Crawlspace!