Tuesday, 26 April 2016
The Chronicles of Dis (part 8): Disclose "The sound of disaster" Ep, 2003
At first, I didn't really want to post a Disclose record as I originally intended to write about a lesser-known band making to love Discharge to wrap it up (that will be for next time). But then I thought that to celebrate Discharge-love without talking about Disclose would be a little irrelevant, if not unfair, and, after a few friends pointed it out to me, I almost felt bad. I mean, love'em or hate'em, but Disclose remain THE iconic D-Beat band. I had to do it somehow. So here it is: "The sound of disaster" Ep from 2003.
I have always had a weird relationship with Disclose and, to this day, I am not completely sure if I enjoy the music that much to be honest. For a long time, Disclose were that band on the other side of the split Ep that I bought and that I rarely listened to, if ever. Browsing through my collection, I realized that I had more Disclose records than I originally thought, mostly splits (with Hellkrusher, Homomilitia, Cruelty, Squandered...) and compilation tracks (Crust and Anguished, Meaningful Consolidation, Iron Columns, Chaos of Destruction...). It made me think that Disclose were a bit like that friendly acquaintance that you don't really know that well but that you always bump into at punk gigs. Not really a mate, more like a face that you have known for a long time, got drunk with a couple of times and wishing you would hang out more. And now it looks like the time has finally come.
The first time I heard Disclose (and I think it was this Ep), I thought, not unlike Gordon Ramsay tasting a ghastly-looking, sloppy dish, "Bloody hell, what a mess...". I really didn't get it at all, wasn't even sure of what was actually happening; only Atrocious Madness confused me (pun intended) as much at the time. I was already into bands like Disfear or Meanwhile and I just couldn't figure out why Disclose would go for that fuzzy, murky sound when the Swedes sounded much more powerful and direct at first. Besides, they looked too gimmicky, on the brink of goofiness at times. Basically, I did not get into them at all and never really bothered to actually LISTEN to them (instead of merely HEARING) for a long time (yes, you may boo me). I almost discarded Disclose (pun intended). While I always respected the band and acknowledged their tremendous, but peculiar influence, on punk music, they did not speak to me. I have actually often enjoyed reading Kawakami interviews and writings as he had this deep, unrestrained, articulate, endless passion for Discharge-influenced bands (his mentioning that Death Sentence and Diatribe's guitar sounds had been influential on his playing made me ponder for hours), and yet his music usually underwhelmed me. But the past few weeks have been eye-opening and after spending hours studying Disbands, their songwriting, their sound, looking at their interpretative intent, suddenly it struck me. While listening very closely to "The sound of disaster" (a sound advice given by Zeno), I had an epiphanic moment and realized that I had completely misunderstood Disclose (and I immediately felt like a fool): they were not really about noise, they were about true love.
Contrary to Disaster, Disclose never sounded "just like" Discharge, and I would argue Kawakami never truly aimed at sounding "just like" them, rather he focused on writing and creating art that had Discharge as an ultimate referent pregnant with meaning. I cannot claim to be a Disclose expert, I am not, and although I have spent the past couple of days listening to their entire body of works, I am aware that I have not grasped it all yet, not by a long shot. What I did understand however, is that Discharge were far more than a band or a sound to Kawakami, they were an all-encompassing worldview. His absolute faith in a Discharge-shaped cosmogony became awe-inspiring and I started to admire and relate to the loyalty, the unshakable passion, the unbound love in the face of everything else, quixotic perhaps but also profoundly romantic. And again, I felt like a fool for not seeing it before. If anything, Disclose proved that true love is not static, it was never a silly, barren or stale obsession, it was fluid, creative and generous. Through the impressive (although not so easily accessible) work on the guitar sound and texture that would come to define what we mean today with "raw punk", through the syncretic composition of dischargy riffs, through the clever and witty use of the whole range of D-Beat paces, through the celebration of Dis-referentiality and obviously through the constant re-affirmation of the relevance and validity of Discharge aesthetics, Disclose created a complex but enthralling galaxy of signifiers and signifying where Discharge shone like the Sun.
I have included the obituary that Stuart Schrader wrote after Kawakami's passing in 2007 (it was published in MRR at the time). It is a moving, well-written account of Kawakami's legacy and beliefs that are enlightening.
But let's finally take a look at "The sound of disaster". It was originally released as a tape by Game of The Arseholes (essentially a brilliant fanzine written by Stuart Schrader who also released a couple of records) and Distort Label Records in 2003, but this Ep is the vinyl version that saw the light of day in late 2003 on No Fashion Records, a Brazilian label that was also responsible for more Disclose records as well as works from Subcut, Scum Noise or Agathocles. "The sound of disaster" embodied the Disbones period of Disclose, which basically corresponded to the years 2003/2006. It is quite amazing, given the very narrow artistic requirements of the D-Beat genre, how Disclose still managed to evolve and innovate. Be it their all-out "Why?" period (the "Once the war started..." Ep), their raw Swedish hardcore phase ("Tragedy" Lp) or their late Disbones obsession, the real tour de force is that they always brought something new, notably with their minute work on sound textures, and syncretized an array of Discharge-loving bands while always keeping Discharge as the original building clay. The term "Disbones" might be a little misleading at first (it certainly confused me at the time) as one could be led to think that Disclose were trying to blend Discharge and Broken Bones, which was only (very) partially true. "Bones" didn't refer to Broken Bones so much as it did, quite literally, to Bones. "The sound of disaster" included Bones' style of riffing while he was in Broken Bones (if you listen closely, you will spot some obvious loving rip-offs) and integrates them in the Disclose recipe with added fuzz and distortion. And it works very well as it gives the songs extra headbanging crunch and catchy hooks that allow for some solid singalongs. I really enjoy the dynamics on this Ep which has a triumphant vibe that I feel is perhaps missing from earlier records.
As you can expect, the record is a celebration of Dis-intertextuality with the cover being a blend of the Discharge and Broken Bones' skull logos and the war-themed lyrics displaying an assortment of references.
As a last word, I am still not quite sure whether I love Disclose music or not. However, I now know that I love Disclose and what they stand for. I have always been a late bloomer...