Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Big Black - Cables

One of my first meaningful introductions to heavy music was from Steve Albini’s seminal and short-lived punk rock band, Big Black. Big Black was able to obtain a level of musical extremity without the shrieked vocals or shredding guitar solos of heavy metal music. Instead, Albini achieved a level of ferocity with the monolithic pounding of a Roland TR-606 drum machine and clanging guitar which sounded less like traditional guitar and more like a buzzing sheen. To get this unique guitar sound, Albini would play with metal guitar picks adorned with small snips of sheet metal. Big Black used guitar as a way to create texture as opposed to using it as the melodic core of most rock bands. The vocal work is also not at the center of the songs, instead becoming another texture to mesh with the chaos of guitar noise and synthesized drumming. When I first heard Big Black, I had never heard anything quite like it, and I was completely enthralled.