By Jonny Bakes
Behind every big band that defines a genre, there’s always bands who had all the potential to join them but had none of the luck. Something just seems to happen at a point in time and their career path falls off the trajectory of the scene that they helped to build and they end up left behind. There could be a whole host of reasons why this happens, hell sometimes it’s just down to bad luck, but just because a band fell behind at the peak of a movement doesn’t mean that they can’t dive back in and give it another go.
Take the case of Live Skull for example, they were part of the up-and-coming No Wave scene in Manhattan in the early 80s, the scene which spawned Sonic Youth and Swans. However, unlike their peers, Live Skull were destined to disband altogether in 1990 while Sonic Youth went on to be synonymous with the No Wave scene. But every dog has its day, and Live Skull found themselves back in action in 2016 and, a few years later released the first album in over three decades. This year should have been a solid year of touring for Live Skull and a chance to get out there and promote ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ but instead it ended up being a period of reflection for singer/guitarist Mark C who found himself penning some new material in the midst of the chaos that has been 2020.
The result is ‘Dangerous Visions’, a two-sided album that pairs new material and recordings with a delve into the vaults to dig up some long lost recordings from the late ‘80s that will remind you that Live Skull are a band that still deserve to be taken seriously. Existing fans will appreciate the history that comes along with this album and will already be hungry for new material, whereas those who find themselves getting into Live Skull for the first time will relish the opportunity for some teasers from the back catalogue. It’s the best of both worlds really!
The album kicks off with a siren heralding the start of ‘In a Perfect World’ with distorted guitar riff and groovy bassline that gives a bit of a post-punk feel to it, or maybe it’s just that it reminds me of Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures. It’s a strange mixture of relatively upbeat music with hauntingly bleak sounding vocals, a bit like The Smiths but with far more balls. This is followed by a re-working of ‘Debbie’s Headache’ (from 1987’s ‘Dusted’) and a live recording of ‘Day One of the Experiment’ before eventually closing out this side with the dark ‘Twin Towers’. The latter is a melancholic, yet motivating, number that provokes thoughts of events that could have been as disastrous for you as they were for others. In a way you could say that it’s about the gratitude that you might feel for escaping the impacts of them.
I’ll be honest that the no wave scene is something that I had never really had much dealing with, so this was a bit of an introduction for me (I’m merely aware of Sonic Youth by name) and as introductions go it was a pretty positive one. While this may not be something that I’ll come back to regularly, there are aspects of it that will likely bounce around my head for a while. Whereas I would say that this would certainly appeal to post punk fans as well as those who are already well versed in the likes of Sonic Youth and other bands from the no wave scene. The even mix of old and new will appeal to a wide range of fans, old and new, to make this a worthy addition to the collection.
- ‘Dangerous Visions’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.
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