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Saturday, January 06, 2007
An Undiscovered Jewel
4:40 PM
At some point in late 1999 or early 2000, I am shopping at Record Exchange, and I notice a new cd by Godflesh, Us and Them. Immediately I think of the seminal Pink Floyd song, and quickly examine the track list. There is indeed a track of that title, in position two, behind another entitled "I, Me, Mine". And hey, this is weird -- another song with the title of a classic song, this one by the Beatles.

Perhaps it's a covers record, I think, but a cursory examination of the rest of the disc reveals no other familiar titles. This doesn't mean much, as I can definitely imagine Godflesh doing a disc of covers of songs I've never heard before, much like Metallica did years earlier with Garage Days Re-Revisited. I add the disc to my stack of purchases, eager to check it out.

When I get home, I take it out of the shrink-wrap and pop it in. "I, Me, Mine" starts up as I open the liner notes for more information. The simple foldout has, overlaid on a red swirl reminiscent of a David Lynch drapery, the lyrics in one large paragraph, punctuated by the bold-print song titles. By the time I skim through and realize this isn't what I thought it might be, it is also obvious from the music itself.

What I knew of Godflesh at that time came mainly from their 1994 effort Selfless, and what I heard of Us and Them so far is weird -- the mid-tempo chugging is replaced by up-tempo drum and bass beats. It's clearly the same band, but in a very different style. The second track though, the "Us and Them" that initially caught my eye, is back to form, with great heavy riffing and vocals drenched in delay (which is, incidentally, about the only thing tying this to the Floyd song).

Though I like it, I really rather hoped for covers, and so I stop the disc and put in the other stuff I bought. Somehow, I'm not sure how, I never really went back to it.

Fast-forward to today, as I grab a cd to put in while I take a shower. At this point, since I've been buying mainly vinyl for the past few years, when I look at my cds I feel a bit like the television show stereotype of a girl in front of her closet -- tons of clothes but nothing to wear. As such, I'm looking for stuff I haven't heard in a while. When my eyes pass over Us and Them, as they have countless times before, they stop.

Here I am, six or seven years later, but with a much broader taste in music, and boy, am I surprised -- this disc is amazing me. All thoughts of cover songs are gone, replaced by heavy, heavy riffs. The influence on other bands by Godflesh is apparent, but has also come full circle. The drum and bass and hip-hop elements here clearly are evidence of a band reflecting their own broad tastes. "Witchhunt", for example, has a drum riff based around a sample from Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance"! The rest of the disc follows suit, with the well-defined Godflesh sound, but leaning a bit away from the guitars and more toward the outside influences.

So, in review: Godflesh's Us and Them: great. Preconceived notions of how a disc might sound: stupid. Don't be like I was.

---

mp3s: Godflesh, "I, Me, Mine" and "Witchhunt"

1 Comment(s):

Anonymous syntax: i felt the same way when i rediscovered the semtex album by the third eye foundation. i wasn't too impressed the first time i heard it, but when i came back to it a few weeks ago it blew my mind.

us & them was pretty good, but it did take a lot longer for me to warm up to it than, say, pure and selfless.

broadrick's new band, jesu, is pretty good too.

1/07/2007 1:07 PM 

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