Landed How Little Will It Take

[Load; 2008]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: noise-rock, sludge-punk, ugly rock ’n’ fuckin’ roll
Others: Flipper, Jesus Lizard, Brainbombs, The Cows

All music aficionados have that soft spot for a specific niche that leaves us weak and helpless to the charms of its tropes, no matter how tired such tropes are. These nuances, these clichés occasionally suppress any critical flags, and often one becomes stagnant, immune to the healthy desire for progression. Me? I’m a sucker for some ugly-bass-driven, feedback-guitar-damaging, percussion-pummeling, vocal-chord-lacerating noise-rock. The kind that The Jesus Lizard more or less perfected, the kind that folks like Pissed Jeans and Clockcleaner have renewed critical interest in, and the kind that Brainbombs took to a laughably repugnant yet near-impossible-to-duplicate low (that’s a positive). Since there’s only so much you can really do with the noise-rock formula before you wind up as some innocuous Flipper tribute act, it’s a testament to a band’s talents when they can devolve such overdriven and seemingly one-sided sludge-punk into something even more startlingly repulsive and powerful.

Landed, returning here with the compilation How Little Will It Take, seem to be one of the more overlooked and obscure of the noise-rock club, if not one of the more notorious, thanks to live shows featuring nudity, blood, and occasional self-immolation (the latter documented in the liner notes by Sam McPheeters of Born Against/Men’s Recovery Project). Less a band and more a revolving-door quasi-supergroup overseen by vocal terrorist Dan St. Jacques, Landed’s roster of Providence-based talents has included John Dwyer of Coachwhips/Pink & Brown fame and J. Ryan of Six Finger Satellite, though the band has settled into semi-stability with Pleasurehorse mastermind Shawn Greenlee taking guitar duties, while Joel Kyack and Rick Pelleier alternate on drum/guitar/bass. In any case, the group has always added up to the sum of its parts, with each lineup forming a consistent and chaotic monstrosity not afraid to forge its punch-drunk stupor into unequivocally insurmountable and sturdy peaks.

Because they're not always as prolific as one might expect from the noise scene, How Little Will It Take helps those who either desired another dose following the band’s superb Vermiform disc Everything’s Happening or who missed the slew of sporadic vinyl output, much of which is included here. While missing out on a few pieces of interest (mainly their split 12-inch on Hospital with Air Conditioning and their Dirty Bomb 12-inch from last year, which seems like it will see the light of day on an upcoming Corleone Records CD), How Little Will It Take is nevertheless a pretty indispensable and exquisitely packaged compilation, as solid an introduction to these rabble-rousers as you can ask for.

Opening with a newly unearthed tantrum (“Bahdi Odour”), How Little doesn’t muck around in its instantaneous delivery of the desired onslaught of sheer ugliness and anti-social squalor. Following the opener with the entirety of 2006's “Times I Despise” 12-inch (also on Load), it’s pleasing to note (especially to vinyl collectors who may already have some of these releases) that the recordings here have been remastered with much care, sounding noticeably more ominous and imposing. With low-end laceration nicely underlying the one-chord riffs on “Times I Despise,” the whole of this live behemoth (recorded in 2001) hardly stumbles into tepid familiarity or cheap thrills. The physical assault of this visceral mania provides the unhinged vigor that digs into the bloody yet undeniably exuberant masochism.

Lyrically alternating between anti-Bush political vitriol (as evidenced on “War/Us Vs. Them”; all of this pre-9/11 too — imagine the kind of frightening disgust they work up these days) and dumb whimsy (a diatribe against supermarkets on “Super Stupid Market” and a literal shitting contest on “The Biggest Shit”), St. Jacques hearkens to some god-awful toddler incarnation of David Yow, running his shouts and mumbles through heaps of distortion and delivery with all the Id and uninhibited naivety required to make this mess sound so euphoric. “Dairy 4 Dinner” even forgoes guitars for the chaos, letting Greenlee take a stab at some nasty synth rumblings while Neil Burke abuses his bass to no seeming sense of logic or relent.

While the unreleased “Shopping Spree” continues the Brainbombs-style snail-metal with pride, it’s on pieces like the electronics-driven, Chrome-esque industrial rock of the title track and 1997's “Why I Live” 10-inch (especially that record’s B-side, “Hit The Land”) where Landed tread into the forward-thinking grounds of avant-jazz and free-noise while never once losing their sense of rock-based singularity. Like the finale of Everything’s Happening, which was an unexpected yet wholly successful detour into proggy fusion, these pieces explode with the characteristic ferocity, but also forsake the crux of monotony with a notable talent for composition and the influence of out-genres.

Including an even-more blown-out 3-inch bonus CD -- including a fantastic “new” recording from 2006 (“Pass The Buck”) -- How Little Will It Take ranks as a highly noteworthy documentation of how noise-rock can be revitalized and taken to various extremes of abrasiveness, misanthropy, and disorder without damaging its gratification or originality. For all the hype that many of their admirers have received, it sometimes just takes the right portfolio of sorts to remind the followers not only as to who paved the way, but as to who continues to beat other rock-surgeons at their own game.

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