photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
narrated by celebrated RANCID/OPERATION IVY frontman and modern PUNK ROCK icon TIM ARMSTRONG, the NOISEY series UNDER THE INFLUENCE was a short-lived documentary series on their YOUTUBE channel that investigated three influential 20th century music scenes.
what stands out about this series to me is the loving care the producers took to more or less let the participants of the scene take control of the narrative, where ARMSTRONG's voice drops in from time to time to clarify or connect a few points. his famed marbled-mouthed voice is both JARRING and UNCONVENTIONAL, yet works its magic as it forces you to actively listen to his words.
obviously with regards to RANCID, the NYHC and 2-TONE SKA scenes are two essential ingredients to their sound and it is interesting to get a sense of the HISTORY and POLITICS, both within the five boroughs as well as the receding sunset of the BRITISH EMPIRE, that informed how these musical forms and communities came about. in the case of NYHC and 2-TONE SKA it was a clash of cultures, an amalgamation of styles that created evolution. with KRAUTROCK you had a whole post-WWII generation of WEST GERMANS that wanted a collective CULTURAL YEAR ZERO. they wanted new forms that indebted NOTHING to the previous GERMANIC culture that had been pilfered and bastardized by the NAZIS. a new sound for a new WEST GERMANY.
whats also cool is how they connect these past scenes to RIGHT NOW. its not academic so much as it is prologue for vital CREATIVITY currently happening. these segments are just as INVIGORATING and UNEXPECTED as the original scenes themselves.
definitely check out these three episodes. they are beyond INFORMATIVE and well-produced and are definitely worth your time.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
the VICE subsidiary NOISEY which produces content on its YOUTUBE channel dedicated to largely underground aspects of global MUSICAL CULTURE did a deep dive a few years ago with their seven-part series NOLA: LIFE DEATH & HEAVY BLUES FROM THE BAYOU (NOISEY, 2014) into the origins and legacy of SLUDGE METAL and its LOUISIANA origins.
in essence this series investigated specifically that music of DOWN members and proud LOUISIANANS JIMMY BOWER (EYEHATEGOD), KIRK WINDSTEIN (CROWBAR), PEPPER KEENAN (CORROSION OF CONFORMITY), and PHIL ANSELMO (PANTERA, SUPERJOINT RITUAL) as well as members of ACID BATH and GOATWHORE among others. in essence these musicians were heavily influenced by their surroundings. rural living and laid back southern vocal affectations manifested in rhythm tempos that were decidedly relaxed and slower in cadence. this tempo shift is in direct opposition to the concurrent strains of THRASH METAL and DEATH METAL that took place in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. in case you find this a little jarring, its important to consider that JAZZ, another LOUSIANA contribution to the AMERICAN musical tradition, was rooted in the STORYVILLE red light district of NEW ORLEANS where musicians would shift their tempos to the rhythms of a brothel's occupants in lieu of securing a tip.
SLUDGE METAL is a thick, brutal METAL sub-genre which traces its roots to bands like THE MELVINS (from rural WASHINGTON state) and particular BLACK SABBATH (famously from the industrial wasteland of the MIDLANDS in ENGLAND), but it is hard to argue that it found a true home in LOUISIANA. again, interesting to see how landscape, location and even linguistics impact art and music. when you consider that SLUDGE METAL has influenced the likes of the even more extreme and sonically stretched-out explorations of modern DRONE METAL and POST METAL which revel in the nuances and textures of space and distortion, it is intriguing to consider what spices have been added to that gumbo. who knows where its all heading next which is pretty exciting.
in summation, this documentary is well-constructed and worthy of further investigation if you are so inclined.