KID SHIRT

Saturday, February 10, 2007

GENTLE GIANT (SLIGHT RETURN)

Still on a Gentle Giant zag: m'man Chris on fantastic form when I caught up w/ him earlier in the week: telling me about his attempts to track dn former members of GG, etc...

We were talking about the live album I've been listening to recently and I mentioned the section that involved broken glass percussion...this was recorded in a pre-sampler era and Chris said he thought they used a reel-to-reel on stage to reproduce this...he reminded me about the part that involved a spinning coin and cackling laughter, and said that this was a recording of a studio-album part that had been engineered by Martin Rushent (who Nick interviewed ages ago and who most people of my generation associate w/ The Human League, Stranglers, Altered Images, etc)...sure enuff, I checked and Rushent was engineer, and later, producer on a raft of classic GG recordings...

Chris said he'd read somewhere that Rushent had said GG were one of his all-time fave bands...we started talking about the punchy, off-kilter, syncopated pulse-beat they favoured on a lot of their stuff and that how it was almost (okay, maybe stretching things here a bit) a precursor for some of the quirkier end of New Wave stuff...if you strip out some of their more folkier/faux-medieval tropes (certainly on the rockier-sounding live album) they don't sound too far removed from the first-wave agitated pop-punk of bands like, I dunno, Devo and the Ohio scene and so forth...certainly by the live LP (1976?) they had more in common w/ the quirky noivous nrg of Punk than you might expect...and lets not forget that there were a lorra bands back in that era that featured musicians w/ old-fart non-punk ped-i-greees that they tried to sweep under the carpet: The Police are the most obvious example, but worrabout the likes of, erm, Radio Stars, etc and there were a ton of others who pretended to play dumb for a while just so they could keep working: this is maybe another reason why Post-Punk took off so quickly, 'cos there were a whole bunch of musos who'd been working semi-incognito, so to speak, and were more'n ready to start using their chops again...

Anyway, interesting to play w/ the idea that Punk was not as much'va Year Zero/Start Again Moment as we usedta think and that unfash. bands like Gentle Giant were actually part of a pre-Punk 'tinuum that's been retro-rewritten out of history (they weren't as fash. as Can, Van Der Graaf, etc cos Johnny didn't mention 'em), and in fact may have inadvertantly been far more of a part of Punk's (or rather New Wave's) blue touch-paper (or at least it's stylistic/production/sonic palette) than we originally thought...

Post-script: pumping syncopation, as used by New Wave (and popularised by musical forms as far back as Neu Orleans Jass and b/yond), implies an off-on/up-down/yes-no musical (and visual: stark, white/black, lights on n off) shorthand that pre-seeds the digital 1/0 byte-obsessed era we all know an' love...)