I'm always fascinated by the way we react to an album upon first listen. I've found that some of my favorite records (The Pixies' Doolittle, Joanna Newsom's The Milk-Eyed Mender, Guided by Voices' Bee Thousand and the Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy for example) were ones I could barely stand the first time I heard them. I'm not quite sure why this is... Maybe something along the lines of the albums not conforming to what we're used to musically and to appreciate them we need to ease ourselves in, gradually becoming more familiar. On the contrary, some albums that sound great upon first listen can often fall flat with subsequent plays. Some albums just suck. However lastly, rarest of them all, are albums that blow you away upon first listen, and simultaneously are unlike anything you're heard before.
I've had this experience recently with This Heat's 1981 record Deceit. I discovered the band on the last.fm similar artists lists for both Pere Ubu and Suicide and with a moment's curiosity I gave the album a blind download. Wikipedia furthered my curiosity, with the entry on the band stating that This Heat "is widely considered to be a missing link between progressive rock (especially krautrock) and such later experimental genres as post-punk, post-rock and noise rock". It ranking #20 on Pitchfork's top albums of the 1980's wasn't too shabby either. I loaded it up on to my Ipod and finally gave it a play a few days later during a 6-hour car ride. I was struck with how timeless the album sounded, as it could have been recorded and released this year, still sounding ahead of its time. Animal Collective owe a huge debt to this band, as do countless of other today's experimental acts. Perhaps that's why I could get into this band from a single listen: that so many aspects of their sound have been done to death today, and when I finally heard it in its purest crystalline form, all I I could be was taken aback.
My favorite track from the album is "Paper Hats," an intense schizophrenic masterpiece involving tape loops, colliding time signatures, quiet to loud to quiet dynamics, frantic screams, and at times, complete cacophony. It's absolutely insane and I love every second of it.
This Heat - Paper Hats
"well, what do we expect
or maybe even roses?
the sound of explosions?
oh no, is this any easier?
comfy? climax? ego?
decorations up or down?
the sound of explosions
what does this tune signify?
what is its meaning?
is it really that straight forward?
or are our ears beyond words?"
Now for a first on this blog, I'm going to upload the entire album. I wouldn't do that if it were commercially available, but it's been out of print in the US for over a decade, with the lowest offering price on amazon.com being $39.99. Grab it here and have your mind blown.
This Heat - Deceit [album]
Oh yeah... the album was recorded in an abandoned meat factory.