I notice that I say “ambient” a lot when talking about a bunch of bands I like. I drop it when I reviewed Home by the band They And The Children, and I was thinking it a lot when I was listening to Sparta’s first album Wiretap Scars last night on the way home. And at the same time I wonder “what the fuck are you talking about, shit for brains?” Well, since all I’ve been spinning mostly these days is hip-hop (mostly Doomtree and Flobots…don’t ask) and more obscure and not-listened-to-often stuff from my record collection, I’ve been coming across it a lot more on my mp3 player and saying to myself “Huh, so this is why I bought this record”.
But yeah…ambient. I mean, to be honest, it’s a pretty open term. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines “ambient” as;
“of the surrounding area or environment”
Which if you think about it, is also a fantastic application to music. I mean, you want your music to be all-surrounding, filling the niches and becoming what hipsters and academics would call ” a sonic experience”. I know that sounds like shit but in comparison to a fast and lo-fi recording like say the first Scream album or Husker Du’s Everything Falls Apart, it’s insane to listen to Nightmares by From Ashes Rise and literally FEELING the music around you, layered and deep and think and HEAVY. Literally heavy in a way that bands like Hatebreed could only dream of being. Coming home on the subways, diving into writing projects, and even just relaxing and dealing with rough weeks at work, the power of creating a surround-sound environment through headphones or coming out the speakers…shit, it almost beats a Minor Threat record. It’s different from the assault blast of straight punk rock, but at the same time it’s the same chill down my spine and goosebumps on my arms. Except it’s not the rage of wanting to beat someone’s face in for laughing at me just because I’m different, it’s a sense of breathing in everything around me and knowing that I’ll always breath back out and keep on walking, because there ain’t no motherfuckers that can stop this.
“Post-hardcore” has always been a weird genre to try and define, mostly because it encompasses so much, from Embrace to Texas Is The Reason to Spitboy to Lifetime. And since it’s so hard to pin down and so hard to define since anyone from Fugazi and Leatherface to shitty Nation of Ulysses ripoff bands, the term tends to fall by the wayside of music journalism and blogging as the realm of the hip and snobby, the bands that think PiL are street punk and that being able to name-drop Green Day albums justifies sounding like pop shit with the occasional high-volume screaming bad hardcore “breakdowns”.
It’s too bad. Because TATC, Tragedy, and Sparta are all fantastic bands. Like, a sound that I really love, the place where older hardcore guys and girls go when they don’t want to fall into the traps of bad melllow-electro dance and weighty solo projects that sound nothing like anything you’d want to listen to.
It’s always awesome to hear these projects, to hear Rival Schools after Gorilla Biscuits and know that the guys (or at the very least the type of guys) you idolized when you were younger haven’t lost any of the fire and passion from when they were younger, all they did was just learn to sing a little in melody and get a second guitarist who knows what he’s doing. Oh, and the songs are longer than 2 minutes. Lush and heavy without being oveproduced and designed to be heard only through the volume set at maximum with no goddamn sense of layering at all…thanks, iPod culture!
I guess I’m just overthinking as usual…but I can’t help but find some sort of connection here. Maybe it’s because I’m not scared of getting old…I actually can’t wait to be a bitter old hardcore dude, listening to stuff that would make most “scene” kids mad, my friends’ bands and my old records that sound almost nothing like what’s being played in fake house parties and shitty bars that don’t care about anything but the money kids who pretend to be poor can throw at the door and at the over-made up girls behind the bar for shitty beers.
I had a point here…oh, right. If you find it, buy Sparta’s Wiretap Scars. Also, get Nail Yourself To The Ground by Small Brown Bike because that shit will blow your mind. I am dead-fucking serious.