Hey everyone, Kallen here with my inaugural post on SevenTenTwelve. Paul invited me to help him out on here and, well, how could I refuse? He’s a busy man, getting his Ph.D, being a musician…me? Nothing. I’m still a goddamn undergrad here after four years. But, anyhoo…
My first few round of posts will be about LPs released this year that you may have missed. Maybe you’ve noticed it too, but flipping through the posts Paul’s made, he hasn’t really made much use of the TWELVE part of SevenTenTwelve (the only ones I remember reading are his posts on Cheveu and the Hospitals – P.S. Paul, on your description of the former, because you didn’t mention it, the lyrics of the track “Happiness” is dialog from the movie of the same name). I mean, I love 7-inches and quick listens as much as everyone else but you and I know that plenty of great full-length LPs have come out this year as well.
With that in mind…
I’ve gotta say, for the past few years, I’ve shied away from music with heavy political content. Why, you ask? Hey, not like I want my music to deny what is going on in the world, but most of the aforementioned either came off being trite, just plain stupid, or from musicians who are probably too privileged to “smash it up”. However, one record I’m glad I didn’t ignore is Billy Bao‘s Dialectics Of Shit.
What is known about Billy Bao? He was born and raised in Lagos before relocating to a newly-democratized Bilbao, where the man supposedly discovered punk rock. His band includes Alberto Lopez, Xabier Erkizia, and, most notably, experimental guitarist Mattin. In fact, there are rumors that Billy Bao is Mattin himself.
Whether Bao is a real person or made up by Mattin, there is an undeniably real streak of anger running through this very heavy monster of a record. Whereas lyrics on past records such as his Fuck Separation 10-inch on S-S had more explicitly political lyrics, this record shows Bao spouting barely intelligible, misanthropic lyrics such as “I am a mirror/every day I have to take a look at all those disgusted faces” on the track “I am a Mirror/Putrefied Egos”.
The politics come in through Bao’s approach to form. Like Fuck Separation, which had Bao on a single track across two sides of vinyl, Dialectics Of Shit is another record which takes form as seriously as content. Comprised of ten tracks each exactly three minutes long, the music on this record is thoroughly mangled. Whether it is the fucked up splicing on “Tight Ass Bleeds”, the skipping second half of “You Get Me, You Get The Kicks!” (a track which opens the B-side, it’s actually just a deformed version of the album opening track “I am Billy Bao, Right Here Right Now!”), or the left-right channel jumping on “Putrefied Egos/Broken Mirror”, there is a definite sense that this is music meant to provoke, or even disgust, the listener.
Even if you disregard the politics that run through the record’s context and form, this is simply one of the heaviest sounding records of the year (gotta love when the bottom end kicks in on “I am Billy Bao”). I hate to rehash the same reference points as everyone else who has touched upon this record, but the Brainbombs comparison is undeniable. Take those lovable Swedes, take away most of their sex drive, and add a small pinch of Whitehouse‘s noise fuckery and pure hate. That is Billy Bao’s Dialectics Of Shit.