Thursday, 15 October 2015

Hero of a Hundred Fights - The Cold, The Remote (2001)

Having once played guitar in a band which almost recorded a Doctor Who themed concept album featuring tracks with titles like Travels in the Tardis, the proposal of which inspired me to discreetly make my excuses and exit said band, I'm ordinarily a little sceptical of this kind of thing. The Cold, The Remote probably isn't quite this kind of thing, although it's arguably close having taken chunks of thematic inspiration from Lawrence Miles' Doctor Who novel Interference which is expressed at least in the artwork and track titles. On the other hand, if you're going to take inspiration from a Doctor Who novel, then you'd be hard-pressed for a finer source than Interference - a book which failed to follow the rest of Who back to mainstream popularity partially, I would argue, because it makes the rest of said corporate entertainment franchise look a bit shit, quite frankly, at least in terms of its ambition. Matt Smith grinning and pointing at his fez is as far removed from Interference as is Flash Gordon from Gulliver's Travels, and yes I mean the chuffin' book.

Titles and images aside, it's difficult to work out quite how Hero of a Hundred Fights relate to the book which at least one of them has obviously read. Interference presents numerous satirical societies, mechanised and otherwise, as parodies of everything which is wrong with our own, and my guess is that this is what they're riffing on. The lyrics are ambiguous, seemingly presenting an emotional impression more than anything, but it's nevertheless powerful stuff.

I've a feeling this may be math rock and is as such a relative of the music of Tool, although I'm not sure I've ever heard Tool so I'm a bit out of my depth with such categories. Anyway, what we have are dense walls of knotted melodies twiddling over and over and only really sounding like music by virtue of repetition, all twisted up inside pounding, jerky rhythms of some sort of progressive constitution. Why this works is possibly because it was recorded by Steve Albini, and so while the whole improbably ornate edifice is tight as fuck, it's nevertheless hard, raw, loud, and threatening to spiral out of control at any moment, although it never does. In fact it's sort of like a skinnier, slightly more angsty version of Tad, and is as such wonderful.

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