I’ve been on a God Unknown Records trip recently, having reviewed Twin Sister’s debut record, (due out in the next couple of months), obsessed over Sex Swing (review also to come) and now reviewing the long awaited first album by Leeds post-rockers Bushpilot.
Bushpilot were around for a mere 3 years from 1993-1996 and consisted of vocalist Ross Holloway, Karl Berlin (Bass) and Daren Pickles (Guitar), Adrian Gans (Guitar) and Phil Leigh on drums. Already! is a record composed of material garnered from their first couple of years of existence. From what I’ve read they‘ve been labelled as post-rock, when I think of that genre I think songs of an indeterminable length ala Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, by no means bad bands but hardly the kind to get me into a lather of excitement and anticipation.
So, it is with some surprise that opener 1993 starts and I’m struck with the sheer amount of energy, a mishmash of Fugazi style post-hardcore and Jesus Lizard noise-rock. This is followed by the bafflingly titled Big Quaalude Thunder Nothing (I’m sure it would have made sense to Captain Beefheart), that sounds like Malcolm Mooney fronting the much-overlooked Minutemen, a combination that more than suits me.
The Book Of The Outlaw has an almost African tribal influence ala Fear Of Music era Talking Heads with some truly offbeat and amazing guitar playing by Pickles and Gans. They sound like they’re on the verge of chaos but remain remarkably controlled at the same time. The track even evokes shades of early 80’s Adrian Belew fronted King Crimson as well. Extraordinary.
I’m struck with the sheer amount of energy, a mishmash of Fugazi style post-hardcore and Jesus Lizard noise-rock…
We reach the halfway point relatively quickly with Over The Earth I Come, the longest track on the album at over 6 minutes. It has a distinctly darker sound, reminding me of The Fall. The playing is taut and concise, unlike say a lot of more modern-day post-rock outfits that stray into self-indulgence. Bad Vibrations follows with more krautrockian goodness channelling Neu with some Beefheart style rambling layered over the top. This is ticking all my boxes yet it’s all put together so smartly, as often when I hear bands describe themselves as influenced by krautrock and Beefheart I die a little inside as I take this as a byword for hipsters and pretentious improvisational jamming, yet here its conveyed so effectively due to the energy and sheer brevity of the music.
Jesus Loves That Rock ‘N’ Roll, kicks off with an Andy Gill Gang Of Four style riff that sounds like it’s been processed through a Jesus And Mary Chain/Spacemen 3 filter. It’s the most ‘rock’ sounding song on here. I think Jesus would love Rock N Roll, especially if sounds as good as this. Penultimate track No Rule once again channels Can’s Malcolm Mooney before hitting closing number Black Sun that starts quietly with a latter era Talk Talk feel accompanied by Ross Holloway’s distinctive and disjointed vocals. This ends the album on a surprisingly yet suitably mellow note allowing you to catch your breath after the relatively manic feel of the rest of the record.
The most positive listening experiences are ones where you feel enthused about investigating more of a band’s output and this was my experience with Bushpilot (you can find more of their releases on God Unknown Records Bandcamp page). This, as with their contemporaries Slint, is how great post-rock can sound, the songs experimental yet never meandering too far into the avant-garde abyss. John Lennon once described the avant-garde as French for bullshit (ironic coming from him), thankfully Bushpilot never fall into this camp.
Label: God Unknown Records
Band Links: N/A
Scribed by: Reza Mills