Album: The Obliterati
Artist: Mission Of Burma
Mission of Burma have always walked the line between punk and post-punk, never quite fitting in with either. Ever since the release of their debut EP Signals, Calls And Marches in 1981, they've been outsiders in their own scene. After Signals..., they released Vs. in 1982, a true classic of the punk/post-punk era. However, for a long time it looked like Vs. would be their only album after the band was forced to disband in 1983 due to guitarist Roger Miller's tinnitus (deafness) caused by the noise of their live shows. However, 20 years later, a strange thing happened. Thanks to modern technology and medicine Roger Miller was able to hear again and in 2003 they began playing shows together again. A reuinion album, ONoffON, followed. Strangely enough, ONoffON was actually very good. This brings us to the record I'm reviewing now.
The Obliterati, produced by Bob Weston (the bassist of Shellac and closest thing to a friend Steve Albini will ever have), may actually be the best thing MoB has ever recorded. It all starts with "2wice", with drummer Peter Prescott bashing on his set for a bit until suddenly someone shouts and the instruments launch into a buzzing, rumbling assault. Bassist Clint Conley warns "don't make me say the same thing twice", and "you run, I'll follow, you hide, I'll fuck you up". The next track is "Spider Web", with stop-start guitart riffs providing a tense backdrop as Roger Miller says he "wants to shred that spider's web". This is followed by "Donna Sumeria", a quick bit of humor. The band rewrote an old Donna Summer disco hit with lyrics about political crises in Sumeria. "Let Yourself Go" is a quick, punky attack with distorted vocals. "1001 Pleasant Dreams" features warped guitar and the kind of dadaist lyrics that the band was known for. Other highlights include the relatively straghtforward "Man In Decline", the cleverly titled instrumental "The Mute Speaks Out", and the assaultive "Period", where Roger Miller shouts about "a spot, a black dot, a full stop" as the band jworks itself into a frenzy behind him.
Overall an essential listen for anyone the least bit interested in punk or post-punk
By P. Segal