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December 02, 1988 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-12-02

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Crime's

punishing

sound
BY MIKE RUBIN

does

pay

B lack apparel will doubtless be
bountiful and tan complexions rare as
Mute/Enigma recording artists and
current standard-bearers of the
"unhealthy underground" Crime and
the City Solution appear at the
Nectarine Ballroom early Sunday
eveningfasthe curious opening act
choice for Fields of the Nephilim. I
say "curious" because musical logic
would seemingly have that order
reversed, as Crime have developed an
addicted, so to speak, following
during their three LP, three EP
recording career, while the Fields
have impressed very few with their
Shoplifters of Mercy sound and silly
Sergio Leone spaghetti western
bandito costumes.
Crime first came to the attention
of import record collectors and shut-
ins with their not-altogether-
FIELDS OF NEPHILIM
and CRIME AND THE
CITY SOLUTION play the
Nectarine Sunday night at
7:30 p.m. (set your
alarms). Tickets are $9.50.
successful 1984 recording debut, The
Dangling Man, though singer Simon
Bonney had led a number of different
outfits called Crime and the City
Solution in Australia during the late
'70s. Bonney finds it ironic and
somewhat frustrating that many
critics cite the Birthday Party as an
influence on Crime's grinding
swamp-gas-and-snakepit blues sound,
"since we were contemporaries of
The Boys Next Door (the Australian
band that evolved into the Birthday
Party), though we were from different
cities."
More Birthday Party comparisons
were forthcoming but unfair when
e new Crime resurfaced, as Bonney
was joined by ex-BPers Mick Harvey
on drums and keyboards and Rowland
Howard on guitar. Bonney's
bourbon smooth bass croon differs
from Nick Cave's tequila-with-
tabasco yelps (in his Birthday Party
days, not his current lounge balladeer
persona), just as Crime's musical
approach is to create an intense
atmosphere through tension and
restraint, rather than the Party's
explosion of cacophany and chaos -
closer to a cattle prod than a sawed-
off shotgun.

A distinct Crime and the City
Solution sound finally came to
fruition on the band's 1986 Room of
Lights LP, with Howard's
switchblade-sharp guitar
exclamations putting the snap and
crackle into Crime's pop. Alas, the
inevitable creative collisions and ego,
jostling that befall those bands that
achieve "supergroup"status spun
Howard, his bassist brother Harry,
and drummer Epic Soundtracks on
their skinny little way to start their
own act, These Immortal Souls. To
replace them, Bonney recruited a trio
of Germans, including former
Einsturzende Neubauten guitarist
Alexander Hacke, with whom the
new, new, new Crime and the
Solution made their American debut,
-Shine (Mute/Enigma), a more low-
key and accessible
effort than Room of Lights, but a
not-too-shabby release in its own
right.
Despite their LPs, however, the
band might be most familiar to
American audiences via their
appearance (along with Nick Cave
and the Bad Seeds) in Wim Wenders'
1988 film Wings of Desire,
performing "Six Bells Chime" along
with a couple of dapper Eurobeat
angels in a smoke-filled nightclub
(though Bonney's nicotine-fit stage
gyrations revealed more than just a
little debt owed to Ann Arbor's
favorite native son, Iggy Pop). Just
what was this bunch of Australian
expatriates doing in German director
Wenders' metaphysical homage to
Berlin?
"Wim's been a fan of ours for a
long time," said Bonney, "and when
we moved to Berlin we got a chance
to meet him. Ultimately, he liked the
band so much that he wrote parts for
us in his film. We're also going to
contribute some songs to his next
movie, and I imagine that this
collaboration with him might go on
for some time."
Bonney has a unique idea of the
way rock and roll and cinema;
interact. "Underground films attract a,
sometimes entirely different audiencei
that hasn't been exposed to our
music," said Bonney. "Film is an
excellent way to bring the music of;
bands like Crime to a whole new;
audience, and so we'll continue to,
stay very, very active in films. In
addition to Wim's new movie, we'll
be working on a film by a German
director just out of film school, so
look forward to seeing us in
moviehouses as well as concert halls
in the future."

Friday, December 2, 1988
Doomsday
a n c e
Sunday night, the monsters come out,
when rock's spookier side reveals
itself, as Fields of Nephilim and Crime
and the City Solution bring their own
brands of grim danceability to the

Page 11

The

grim, the

pale, and

BY BRIAN JARVINEN

THE Dark Ages ended centuries ago. Just
don't tell Fields of the Nephilim that. They
seem to think the good old days packed up and
moved from the Holy Roman Empire to the
American West. Or maybe the reverse process,
given the atmosphere of their records. The
meadow dudes appear at the Neon Ballroom
Sunday, once Crime and the City Solution get
done fiddling with fascism and other things
Germanic.
The Nephilim play Gothic music. You
know, "life-sucks-so-let's-wear-black-and-look-
sad" type stuff. Well, that's the stereotype of it
anyway; a simple generalization. The music is
definitely dark though, a dense, swirling mercy
mission emanating from an old Benedictine
haus in an Italian desert inhabited by The Man
With No Name. Tony Pettit, the bass player,
gets the wagon rolling with fairly interesting
bass lines, but I am at a loss to connect the
solid drumming of Nod Wright to any cowboy
metaphor. Oh, well. Peter Yates and Paul

Wright supply the sometimes slowly
sustained, sometimes merrily trotting, but
ultimately intense, guitar noises. Their records
have some keyboards too, but they keep those
quiet.
They do have vinyl available - on
American labels, even. Dawnrazor sports one
of the better album covers of 1987 and
showcases their spaghetti influence/image
(cowboy hats and hidden-shotgun style
overcoats coated with 'dust' [flour works swell
for this, kids]). Dawnrazor featured occasional
harmonica and background sounds such as
gunshots. Fields of the Nephilim's new record,
The Nephilim, could just as well be called The
Methilica, considering the seven-minute
average track length. The Nephilim continued
their galloping-over-the-wasteland sound, but
the background references returned to Europe,
catching headphone listeners unawares with
screams and genuine(?) chanting monks!
You shouldn't be surprised when I tell you
that lead singer/lyricist Carl McCoy writes
tomes from the darker side of his brain. Boys
don't meet girls on Nephilim records, as

the gothic
McCoy told the English paper Melody
Maker: "Boring physical relationships are just
a part of normal life; everyone goes through
that anyway. ,Why make more of it?"
Remember, McCoy is the lead singer of an
English pop band with a rabid following, so
he probably is bored with physical stuff by
now.
It would be way too easy to dismiss the
lyrics as "suicidal." I have always hated hari-
kari poseurs, but I can still tolerate McCoy: "A
lot of people say our music pisses them off and
makes them want to commit suicide. To me,
those people deserve to die. Whereas those
who it cheers up have got a better
understanding. It's probably selfish people
who say it depresses them ...."
But lyrics ain't what the Nephs are about:
"at the moment I don't think the lyrics are the
main attraction of the band," says McCoy. Pete
Yates explains: "I don't think anybody in the
band, apart from Carl, knows what the lyrics
are about." Pettit expands on this: "What we
actually stand for is for people to come out and
watch us and have a really good time."

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