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Unsane | Visqueen | review | rock | Lollipop
by Craig Regala
Throw a little bit of your mind my way my murderous friends; this is what "hard core rock" is. Yeah: "hardcore" and "rock." The gruesome, disfigured, metalized face of punk sliced into a dripping Ed Gein leer. Apply the emotionally-flattened attack-dog-as-protection mentality of hardcore to folks whose bloodied hands reach back to spinning The Rolling Stones "Midnight Rambler," forward to opening for Slayer and a lifetime of hammering it out with peers The Laughing Hyenas, Big Black, Helmet, Prong, and many more writ upon the black stone wall far away from the rock and roll hall of fame.
Visqueen is lugubrious and queasy in that Entombedly mid-tempo death Flipper-funk way they've touched (but not tongued) before. Perfect for a rock band intent on keeping its identify in the physical (read: Essential). The opening cut, "Against The Grain," starts with a creepy noir-surf bend before the crushing whir spins in. Sonic Youth as doom-metal harkening the apocalypse. It's got a helluva groove; and it's not just a message, it's a feeling-the inevitable slide we've put into motion. But hey, on this derailed subway car, there's a lotta "Wheeeeye haw!!!" ya know ?
Visqueen chomps down on what I heard the last time I saw the Unsane (Brought Low rec release party at CBGB's, mid-'06), surging body-slam riff-on-rhythm with a stinging melodic guitar line riding the shouting. Ya know, Charlie Parker made great music in New York too, but I'm not educated, lucid, or smart enough to make a cogent argument about the emotional similarity of Parker's Bop and Unsane's gush. A smart fella could, though. The overall deep dish thud-thump herein harkens to Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks" - a dread-filled tale where prayer is useless and weeping futile. The last song/outro, "East Broadway," makes this explicit: The insistent mid-tempo drumming, the phased and filtered sirens, subway cars and delicate spinning metal blades being sharpened...
Ever hear that quote from Marcell Duchamp "The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges"? No one understands this reality better than Unsane: Murders in bathrooms, murders under the bridge, check their album covers. Urban to the core, Visqueen's skewed melodicism and anti-Utopian clarity goes back to the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man." It creepy-crawls into the shiny current undercurrent of what goes on when cracks appear in the "everything's alright, everything's under control" marketplace. A place where fight and flight provide kilos of cocaine and a generous flow of high cheek boned Ukrainian girls to populate America's unslaked desire for desire. To quote Lou Reed, "When a sin gets away, it's a run away car, it cannot be controlled." The Unsane write about that ride.