It’s a 15 minute ‘single’ by the Canadian post-hardcore band, Fucked Up. I’m listening through headphones for the first time. I wish I had the lyric sheet handy.
Two minutes in and several layers of guitars backed by a steady backbeat have gradually edged out all the background noise of television, adenoidal sleeping four year olds and supermum rustling a posh bag of crisps. It’s not unlike Rhys Chatham but more cleanly arranged.
Three minutes. Pink Eyes makes an appearance, trading off his hoarse howl with another vocalist who seems to be providing a sort of distant voice-over. The guitars are beginning to deconstruct the original chord sequence is steadily more anthemic ways. Somehow, the whole assemblage is continuing to build.
Five minutes. There’s a piano. The backbeat is relentless. “No-one left remembers his name/So he kills again.” The guitars are chugging, circling, building tension. It’s a very New York technique. The sparse piano chords anchoring the corners of each melodic building block are surprisingly forward in the mix.
Seven minutes. Rolling fills across the floor toms, the back beat starts to swing, accelerate a tiny bit even. The piano is hinting at arpeggios. The guitars colonise every other available space. “Who makes the tree grow up from the soil?” They really are singing about a tiger. “Afraid of desire…” – that’s what I think he’s singing. Desire the tiger? The tiger, desire?
Nine minutes. A heavily distorted flanged guitar line introduces a new rising motiff – how long can this song continue to rise without losing momentum? A new voice, female? North American accented, clear. The backbeat and rolls return, the new chord sequence merges with the original steady thrash. The drums are leading things now.
Nearly twelve minutes. Singer Pink Eyes is trading lines with the singer. “They’ll try the tiger tonight”?
12 and a half minutes. A moment of triumph, Pink Eyes seems to be singing words implying defeat but it’s all too upbeat.
Thirteen minutes. This quickly resolves into a river of intertwining leads and rumbling bass. The piano twines single notes, upper-mid range chords and gentle flurries.
Fourteen minutes. The drums are slowing everyone down and signalling a fade. One by one, the guitars are dropping out. The drums are reduced to a pulsing loosely closed hi-hat. The guitars stop.
Fifteen minutes. Studio chatter. Back ground noise. The TV leaks back in.
I think I like it. I put it on again.
You can listen to it here if you’re curious.