Sunday, 14 August 2016

Crass "The Feeding Of The 5000" (1978)

Here's another record that the miracle of shuffle brought me back to. Reading and exploring the world of Punk music many years back Crass stood out as one of the most interesting bands, pioneers of the Anarcho Punk sound, Crass were artists who met their words with actual activism and action, true anarchists who expressed their anti establishment and authoritarian views through their DIY music. Feminists, animal rights activists and anti-war they stood for a lot of things I agree with while pointing out the hypocritical nature of punk ideology in the mainstream, calling out The Clash directly on one particular song. The bands story is fascinating, their influence on political culture and activism during their short tenure is unique and quite unheard of in the world of music today... or at any time really.

Punk can be unapologetically raw and crass, pun intended, but not quite like Crass are, with spoken word and dissonant guitar distortions, scratchy and dingy in tone, the band border on Art Punk with a continual exploration of feedback noise through their songs where you might of expected simple power chord riffs. When they do resemble more traditional styles they are buried, distant, quiet and second fiddle to the chemistry between bass guitar and drums. The core "melody" comes from the bouncy bass guitar, lining the direction of each track with a chromatic charm. The drums sound narrow but rattle away with a militant industrial vibe, keeping rhythm with snare rolls and marching rhythms between kick and snare. The symbols are quiet and often hit at the same time as a drum, rarely heard in the moments between.

They create quite the gloomy, nihilistic atmosphere, taking on the weight of the urgency they feel for their world views. Vocalist Steve Ignorant as the lead voice has quite the stark and blunt approach to his performance, almost spoken word, or shouted word as his thick London accent dominates the listeners attention. Its again unapologetic and straight to the point, a brilliant union of art and intention, you can feel the passion and fire for their beleifs. The album is also littered with creativity in the form of sampling, artsy spoken word interludes from Eve Libertine and interesting song ideas. The anti nuclear "They've Got A Bomb" sets a grim tone with crackling guitar noise and as Steve says "twenty odd years now waiting for a flash" it goes silent, as if the bomb has gone of. Fantastic. After its opening track the music starts and ends with two renditions of "Do They Owe Us A living", solidifying one of its main themes.

At thirty two minutes its fast, direct and loaded with short tracks, eighteen in total but they play like a singular experience in moments, often rolling from one into the next, sometimes with the shifts in tempo being transitioned through the drums which steadily increase or decrease in speed. The records DIY production doesn't hold it back, its a low fidelity affair and the reality and genuine nature of its construction makes complete sense given the circumstances, its part of its charm. I love this record for its character, conviction and substance, the music is grounded in reality. The people, ideas are real and meaningful, a much more intelligent form of Punk with a strong, harsh, unforgiving aesthetic.

Favorite Tracks: Do They Owe Us A Living, They've Got A Bomb, Punk Is Dead, Banned From The Roxy, Fight Wars Not War, Securior, You Pay, What A Shame
Rating: 8/10