Thursday, December 1, 2011
CRACK3D MACHIN3: The Beauty of Brainiac
Coming in 1995 and produced/"decoded" by Kim Deal, Internationale was a fantabulous 7" reeking of Daytonian cred and "Go Freaks Go" dominated our turntable for weeks, perfectly capturing a shrill, apart-at-the-seams explosion within an utterly addictive rhythm. The flipside did indeed contain an inverse of the single, the almost pretty "Silver Iodine," which, at the time, served as a worthy peer to Nine Inch Nails' Downward Spiral as well as a preview of cold electronic things to come the next year with Hissing Prigs in Static Couture.
Hissing Prigs... (stylized as H1551NG PRI95 1N 5TAT1C COUTUR3, with the band re-branding themselves as 3RA1N1AC - how the hell do you file that?) stands as their magnum opus. There is an aloof chill that permeates the album, as the band veers into a realm more machine than man while still maintaining what had now become trademark ferocity. There are still plenty of rockers ("Pussyfootin'," "70 K9 Man" and "Kiss Me, U Jacked Up Jerk") but all are so layered, so processed, so meticulously messy in their manufacture that one has to wonder how these would have worked live (I never did have an opportunity to see the band in the flesh). Atmospheric numbers such as "This Little Piggy," "I am a Cracked Machine" and "Beekeeper's Maxim" build on the successes of Bonsai Superstar, evolving the band faster than the listener could process. It was not hard to enjoy Brainiac and Hissing Prigs... still stands as my personal favorite of all their records but, frankly, it is next to impossible for me to put myself into their shoes and comprehend the vision that lead, across four short years, from Smack Bunny Baby to the eventual coda, Electro-shock for President, an EP I still cannot wholly digest.