Saturday, 27 April 2013
Confusion "Hopeless" Ep 1991
Being wrong is sometimes a good thing. Last year, I predicted that Colombian noisepunk was soon going to be the new trend that all the cool punks were going to adopt and pretend to have known and loved forever (to be honest most of my predictions turn out to be wrong). But while paying tribute to Wretched, Disorder or RIP (or mimicking them, depending on how you decide to see it) remains in the realms of the feasible, trying to play like Dexkoncierto, Ataque de Sonido Bastardos Sin Nombre or Herpes is a completely different endeavour altogether. This Colombian brand of punk came from Medellin in the late 80's/early 90's, at a time when it was considered as the most dangerous city in the world (hence its nickname "metrallo"). Among all this violence and chaos could only emerge violent and chaotic punk-rock. The Medellin bands of this era are all extremely distorted, completely sloppy, rough as a badger's arse and very direct. Harsh punk for harsh living conditions.
If limited musical skills are common enough in punk-rock, I have never heard a sound quite as rough as what you can find on such classic compilations as "La ciudad podrida" (1990) or "Estamos en la sima" (1989). Terrible recording conditions and shitty instruments are probably the reasons why it is such a sonic mess (in fact, most of these bands were so broke that they shared the same crappy guitars, drums and amps which account for the very similar super-distorted, blown out sound of these bands). You can add to these material limitations the urgency, the anger, the nihilism that drenched Medellin punk-rock. Those bands were - litterally - playing as if their lives depended on it, as if there would be no tomorrow, and for good reason as the death toll in those years was quite considerable among punks. Can a Japanese, French or Spanish band reproduce this sound? It is very unlikely and it is for the best. 1989/1992 Medellin bands stripped punk-rock down of anything remotely tuneful and created a genre that is so unashamedly noisy, discordant, spontaneously nihilistic, that it cannot be faked.
Now enters Confusion, which is often classified as an old-school grindcore band, and indeed, Napalm Death, Agathocles, Sore Throat and fellow latino grindcoreros Rot, Anarchus or Cacofonia are relevant points of comparison. Confusion were also from the late 80's/early 90's and played old-school grindcore (bordering on noisecore at times) with a raw sound and no technical wankery. But they were also from Medellin and if Confusion's sound is not quite as harsh as their punkier counterparts, some of the bands included on "La ciudad podrida" and "La sima" were close enough to proto-grindcore (just listen to Herpes and you'll know what I mean). The guitar sound on this Ep is not unlike the contemporary Medellin punk bands', very harsh and mushy, and there is a similar sense of urgency flowing through the record. One might venture that Confusion were as much into Agathocles as they were into their fellow antioquieño punk-rockers' burst of desperate fury. Or it could also be that, living in Medellin at the time, Confusion were meant to play naturally an even more extreme and chaotic version of grindcore.
Confusion's lyrics (they chose to sing in English for some reason) tend to confirm such as a claim. Entitled "Hopeless", the Ep contains seven songs about violence from the guerillas and the right-wing paramilitary groups, slaughters of peasants, the abuse of human rights, political corruption and the ties between terrorism and the authorities, poverty in las comunas, censorship and how fighting for justice can get you killed. Although written in broken English, you can see that the political context of Colombia and the utter chaos of Medellin at the time shaped what Confusion had to say: "Choose the silence or choose the death to be a good Colombian citizen". In this respect, the band picked exactly the right moniker: confusion indeed. "Hopeless" was recorded in 1991 and was Confusion's second Ep after the 1990 "Civilization?" flexi on Standard of Rebellion records, a short-lived label that also released Ep's from Seven Minutes of Nausea and CFUDL, and before a split Ep with Arsedestroyer in 1993. Both "Hopeless" and the aforementioned split were released on Amok records from Germany. A few years ago, Obliteration records from Japan released a discography cd of Confusion entitled "Demo's lition" that includes the band's Ep's.