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Discharge - Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing
Review: Ontogeny recapitulated phylogeny in punk hardcore, deconstructive music that attempted to discover the starting point of music by reducing it to as few principles as possible, flourishing in Discharge with sonic leveling constructed from a few chords in a modal strip, rearranged around combatant opposite rhythms, defining an archetypal punk sound and through its independence from rhythm establishing the technique that would allow death metal and black metal bands to create interlocking riffs independent of percussion.
Where most rock bands try to synchronize changes in percussion with the development of guitar phrases and vocals, Discharge liberated rhythm and turned it into a constant with sporadic mid-phrase fills, allowing guitars to change over this ambient framework of chronography so that the rhythm guitar leads each song and vocals comment as if schizoid disaffected from the situation as a whole. Like the modern, action furiously counterbalances itself while screams and shouts fill the night and time marches on. Lyrics attempt to show us an unseen world undetected by marketing, politics and social factors, communicating a horror of experience independent of abstract goals or personal motivations. As deconstructors, the meme agents embedded in their texts seek to remove all that is false and replace it with seeds of inalienable truth from which the principles of civilization can be abstracted.
Song structures -- the changes in phrase leading to different moods -- remain within a riff-chorus cycle, buffered by interspersed breaks in rhythm, lead guitar sounds and transitions through what came to be called "budget riffs," one- and two-chord rhythmic patterns of a usually chromatic nature. Absurdist comedy accompanies the thus empowered dismissal of popular music cliches with an offhanded chord and rhythm change, before returning to the surging rhythms that Discharge uses effectively to convey not only urgency but a sense of rushing toward conflict. Guitar solos are like schools of fish darting in chaotic motion when a predator appears, including parodic interpretations of blues and rock technique which reveal how simple these artifices are. Vocals are hoarse in the Motorhead style as melded with an indie-rock sense of slack sweet vinegar, emphasizing hints of diminished melody as they fall off a repeated note harmonizing the main chord in each guitar riff.
Wrapped around the single paragraph (and sometimes one-sentence) lyrics which repeat like tiles on a bathroom floor, riffs are molded from chromatic strips of chords and an open or melodic interval, creating the weakness of being remarkably similar from one song to the next. Guitar tuning and distortion create an inherently melodic effect so songs seem to shimmer with the fast tremolo strumming that is a hallmark of Discharge's percussion independent songwriting technique. While repetition makes this a difficult repeated listen, the groundwork it established for punk and metal lives on to this day.