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“The best parts of 90s music have to do with women,” tweets Deb Carver.
VJ Matt Visionquest respectfully disagrees. “If you wanna hear the 90s,” he tweets, “listen to any Fugazi record.”
Though I’m sure Matt doesn’t give a shit, it so happens that Pitchfork agrees that Fugazi were among the best the 90s had to offer. At #42 in Pitchfork’s list of the decade’s best albums, we findFugazi’s 1995 release Red Machine.
Though this project hasn’t yet changed my overall opinion of the 90s, it continues to serve its intended purpose of introducing me to music that I completely missed when it was released. It’s probably not the case that I’ve entirely missed Fugazi: in the 90s I spent a lot of time at St. Paul’s Cheapo Discs, and this album sounds so precisely like something they would have been playing there that I’d wager it actually, on at least one occasion, was.
The post-hardcore genre—like the original hardcore genre—has not been a genre in which I’ve been wont to steep myself. By the same token that I tend not to be drawn to sultry, insinuating music, thrashing and screaming don’t really put me in orbit either. Pitchfork’s Eric Carr praises this album for its tempering of Fugazi’s driving clamor with “greater excursions into downtempo dub, ambient bursts, and out-and-out noise.” True.
I’m going to be completely honest and say that I don’t really know what to do with this. I’m just not a hardcore guy. It’s a boat that I have missed, and for which I’m loath to abandon my pop-rock pontoon. If Matt is right that this is the definitive sound of the 90s, it’s no wonder I’ve had a hard time embracing the music that was new when I was new.
Ian McCaleb and Ira Robbins of Trouser Press say that Red Machine is in “an ambitious, experimental format that raises more stylistic questions than it answers.” I hear those questions, and I don’t hear the answers either.
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