1981, Music

A Taste of DNA (1981)

Like all No Wave this stuff is aggressively difficult. Lindsay’s guitar scratches and makes sounds some people probably didn’t no could come from a guitar. And his vocals are only a little more accessible, between yelling, shouting, speaking and yelping. The drums vary from being seemingly random to playing somewhat recognizable rhythms. As others have noted, it’s often only the bass that is playing anything remotely recognizable as rock music. (And then not on every track.) It’s an absolute onslaught and arguably more out there than some other of their contemporaries.

The brevity reminds me of hardcore. (It’s an “EP” but it’s somewhere between that and a single, and it’s similar in length to some hardcore “albums.”) They don’t need a lot of time to say what they have to say. It makes me wonder if shows were this short too, because nobody knew what to do with it. (The audience’s tolerance for noise music has increased greatly with time, it seems.)

I haven’t listened to any of their contemporaries in a while so I have a hard time comparing them off the top of my head. They are even less song-focused than some – calling some of these tracks “songs” feels like a complete misnomer – and that is both to their credit and not so much. The most successful avant garde acts manage to incorporate their radical ideas into less radical forms. But there’s definitely something freeing in knowing that these guys were able to turn this into a launching pad for musical careers.

That being said, this is fun, crazy music from a very unique time, where rules just went completely out the window. And if you’re in the mood for it, you can enjoy it. (Provided, of course, you have some reference points. Listening to at least some noise music or some of the most out there punk-adjacent stuff from the same era is probably a prerequisite.)

9/10

Read my reviews of music from 1981 or why not read both of my DNA reviews?

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