Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Sonatas in D Major (part 3): Realities of War "S/t" Ep, 2013

It's monday morning and although I am not exactly straight and alert, I still have time on my hands before listening to Cock Sparrer on my way to work (because that's what real workers do, right?). I suppose normies would use that precious extra time to do some ironing and catch up on a tedious Netflix series so that they will have something to talk about with their colleagues and feel like their superficial critiques of mainstream American programs is actually akin to engaging in voicing a dissenting opinion. When you hear people claiming that they'd rather spend their night watching Netflix rather than go to a gig and support da scene, that's when you know there is something very wrong indeed with people and with the scene (let's be honest). Are Netflix and Instagram killing punk-rock? You've got four hours. As for me, I shall not be corrupted by this unrelenting propaganda machine and will rather spend my monday morning on something more intellectually rewarding and healthy, like write about an extraordinarily raw recoding of Japanese noizy d-beat from the early 90's. That will be my symbolic act of resistance to the kkkapitalist system and maybe I will also vacuum the flat if I'm done early.

Today's Sonatas in D Major will be Realities of War's self-titled Ep, first released in 2013 but actually recorded 21 years before that, in 1992. As the band bio, written by the guitar player tells us, RoW was never an actual band and this recording was only done for fun by two bored but devoted teenagers who had access to a studio at their school but did not really bother to share the result. I know it already sounds very much like the beginning of a punk fairytale but then when the guitarist adds, for the sake of realism, that "one day of 1992 after listening to DISASTER and SORE THROAT, we decided to go to the studio to try something like that", the story almost falls into unabated teary-eyed romanticism and the most idealistic among us are praying for this magic story to go on. In a perfect alternative world, some other punk (with DISCHARGE and DOOM patches!) that the drummer vaguely knew from his hometown would give the recording a listen, think it's amazing and offer to play the bass (because as you have guessed it, it was just a drum and guitar hardcore project). This three-piece would practice a lot and record a proper demo tape in 1993 and their revolutionary d-beat noize will make them noticed and they'll get to play at the infamous Final Noise Attack gigs in Osaka and share the stage with bands like Gloom and Crusade. At that time they will start to form a strong friendship with another Japanese band, from Kochi city, who was also trying to invent a distorted version of Discharge and further systematize a formula and an artistic view: Disclose. RoW and Disclose would often share the stage and this partnership would materialize through an incredible split Lp entitled Devastation Inferno recorded in 1994 and released on MCR, the distribution of which would make both bands known throughout the world and revered to this very day. That would have been the perfect version of the story. In reality, RoW never played outside of the studio and this project remained a one-off thing, stuck at the stage of the first practice forever. Sob sob.

Would we have heard of RoW if the guitar player in question was not Jacky from Framtid and Crust War? Probably not. After all, the recording was never released, not even as a demo, and therefore very few people would have even been aware of RoW at the time (especially since Jacky was also then involved in a real band, Asphyxia, whose demo would too be reissued in the 00's). Except that Jacky found the recording by chance years after that and sent it to Kawakami (from Disclose you dimwit) "just for fun". It made sense that he liked the recording, since after all it was made up of raw, distorted and primitive d-beat punk songs, not dissimilar to what Kawakami was trying to do exactly at the same time, great minds thinking alike and all that. Then the recording was sent to John from No Fucker, who thought of releasing it but eventually did not, and it finally saw the light of day on a proper Ep in 2013 thanks to Not Very Nice Records, a US label responsible for other noizy stuff from the likes of Chaos Destroy, Scum or Rotozaza. 

I will not beat around the bush: in order to appreciate this Ep, you already have to be really into raw d-beat. If a friend wants to get to know d-beat music better, asks you for help and you end up playing RoW, then you can be sure that he or she will never get into it. If that was your initial intention, well done mate, that person will probably never ask you for musical recommendations ever, but if you wanted to make a convert, then you are just a bad punk. Let's face it, this is a very rough recording, even if in a good way. Some badgers' arses are softer than that. But then, it was basically a recording of a first rehearsal done by two teenage punks, with no bass guitar, so all in all, the result is really not that bad. The sound quality aside, it is pretty fascinating to hear the obsession for Discharge and Discharge-loving hardcore that made the basis for RoW and in that light, they were right on time for the real start of the 90's d-beat explosion and their referring to Disaster as an influence is significant as it points to a second degree Discharge-loving influence and not just Discharge which means that they thrived for a "just like Discharge" sound while emulating prior talented copyists in the process, meaning that RoW was as much about the love for Dis(charge) than about Discharge in flesh and boooones (do you copy?). Because of obvious technical limitations, it is difficult to say if the rawness of the end product was intentional and how much would they have polished the sound if given the chance. Similarly, I wonder if the primitiveness of the songwriting and the directness of the riffs (for instance) were totally conditioned by the time limit or if they denoted a will to play stripped down, pure, quintessential Discharge music. I suppose the answer lies somewhere in the middle.  

I personally do not mind the raw rehearsal sound (after all I have raved about Gutrot and even Eat Shit on Terminal Sound Nuisance) and in addition to early Discharge and Disaster, I am reminded of genuinely raw early discharge-y bands like Subversion, Violent Uprising or even Diatribe, of demo era Doom instead of Sore Throat (the opening of "Doombastards" leaves little room for doubt), and of Disclose of course, especially in the vocal tone, but the similarity is unintentional, if not anachronistic. As I said, the guitar riffs are very simple, direct and aggressive and the d-beat is very pure and, dare I say it, innocent. I just love how the singer introduces the band at the start and then at the end says "Thank you, good night" as if it were a proper gig. It just sounds adorable especially when you put in perspective with the barrage of raw noise that just hit you. RoW sound almost refreshing for their genuine and youthful version of the raw and distorted d-beat, they sound like the lost paradise, essentially prelapsarian, unspoilt by the massive coming trend, symbolical of a time when the name "Realities of War" referred also to Discharge and not just to the whole d-beat phenomenon. It does sound a bit corny to our jaded ears nowadays but that's because we have become cynical bastards.

This is for the true lovers of the D. Seven songs, five of which are untitled. This noize kills posers and can therefore be used as a repellent. 


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