Monday, March 8, 2010
ancient chinese secret - caveat empire
This 1999 album is the only release by Ancient Chinese Secret, a group featuring Chris Dodge and his wife Lydia. I guess Chris Dodge is the dude from a band called Spazz, a powerviolence band from Menlo Park...? I admit that I know nothing about powerviolence, basically. If you are in the same boat, perhaps you would like to read this here little definition:
"Powerviolence (sometimes written as power violence), is a raw, dissonant subgenre of hardcore punk. The style is closely related to thrashcore and grindcore. Musically, powerviolence bands focus on speed, brevity, bizarre timing breakdowns, and constant tempo changes. Powerviolence songs are often very short; it is not uncommon for some to last less than 30 seconds. Some groups, particularly Man Is the Bastard, took influence from sludge metal and noise music. Lyrically and conceptually, powerviolence groups were very raw and underproduced, both sonically and in their packaging. Some groups (Man Is the Bastard and Dropdead) took influence from anarcho-punk and crust punk, emphasizing animal rights and anti-militarism. Groups such as Spazz or Charles Bronson, on the other hand, wrote lyrics mocking points of interest for hardcore and metal fans, or even used inside jokes for lyrics, referencing specific people many of their listeners would not know." - last.fm
Got that? So basically it's like hardcore punk mixed with math rock and noise. I usually call this "noise rock" but hey why not go with "powerviolence"? Anyway I'm pretty sure the name is applied more to a particular scene and time period, rather than a broad genre of music. I'm getting sidetracked. The point of all of this is, after Chris Dodge was in a very important and influential powerviolence band (or so I'm told), he recorded this album with his wife. Although the stripped down bass-and-drum sound and pounding style of drumming live up to Dodge's musical roots, the songs on this album are longer and more "melodic" than you might expect. I say "melodic" because the melodic element is Lydia Dodge's mostly atonal talk-singing, but the slight nod to melody is still significant. Rounding out the group's sound are some occasional electronic additions, used sparingly but effectively. While I think "Caveat Empire" could benefit from a stronger vocal performance, its pretty good noise rock and fans of the genre should dig it.