Big Black Cloud - Lessons in Fuck You 2
In 2013, one of the best songs I heard belonged to the Portland-based astro-punk trio known as Big Black Cloud. The song? “Bomb My Brain.” The reason? It was harsh, abrasive and almost jokingly clumsy. The “take no shit” disposition of its verses, throatily pronounced by guitarist/vocalist Nick Capello, would be followed by this goofy fart of a bass note that was both strikingly odd, but cool somehow. I just found it appealing and it sort of spoke to the band’s penchant for "pigfuck'ing" their instruments with the aggression of a banshee while taking any and every opportunity to weird it up a bit.
That being said, Big Black Cloud’s recently released EP, Lessons in Fuck You 2, further illuminates listeners as to breadth of the band’s fondness for B-movie schlock. With a musical dialect that could easily have been developed from the grooves of Black Flag’s The Process Of Weeding Out, Songs The Lord Taught Us by The Cramps, The Birthday Party’s Prayers On Fire or Surviving You, Always by Saccharine Trust, Big Black Cloud filters its voiceless output through an Ed Wood/Roger Corman lens, creating a musical narrative that would seem suitable for a Repo Man reboot (though this should never happen), sci-fi for cassette geeks still firmly attached to underground anti-everything. The Jaws-meets-Cramps tension in “Satellites,” for example, speaks to this appreciation for spoof, intensity and classic terror, a nostalgic and crossbred understanding of old media that latches itself to the mind through both the sonic disarray of punk music and the often scarred film reels that have, and continue to, amuse and widen imaginations with fantastic, terrifying and impossible visions. I dig this.
This EP is more fragmented than Big Black Cloud’s 2013 release, “Black Friday,” (in fact a shorter version of an instrumental featured on that album is renamed “Black Sunday” and used to introduce the EP) the snippet-length score tracks comprising most of its length. Eerie and loud numbers with titles like “Monoliths,” “Brainbeater,” “Saturn” and “Hate in Outer Space” play to the band’s camp factor.
The rest of the album is devoted to louder and more aggressive fare, songs like “Reptile Brain 2” an angst-driven riff and guttural bass churn generating for the album a very anxious second track. “Disappointment” is fast-paced and frantic and “Exotic” takes on a more queasy post-punk direction, a rhythmic imbalance transitions into high frequency down strokes, setting up the aforementioned “Hate in Outer Space” nicely, its bass-run eerie mood a minimized attack by comparison. The album’s boldest, most musically complex track is its closer, “Open Eye/Yadnus Kcalb,” a rapid couplet of snare beats and Sonic Youth level guitar digressions that amount to a very propulsive construct. The song later morphs into a depressant-induced stride that’s heavy on the low end.
While Lessons in Fuck You 2 does sort of play out as more of a B-side compilation than a cohesive release, the output makes for a good, loud and fully engaging listen. Big Black Cloud is probably my favorite of the nü-millennial punk groups out there, the band’s visual aesthetic (C’mon—Sun Ra’s head is floating on what looks to be lava while men in radiation suits examine an alien landscape! This is only awesome.) and presentation exactly what I’m looking for out of an underground allegiant entity—art, music and, in their case, exploitation.
Genre: Punk Rock / Youth Crew
Label: Eolian Empire
Site: Related Link
Similar: Black Flag, Saccharine Trust, alums of Amphetamine Reptile and Touch & Go, The Cramps
- Black Sunday—0:29
- Reptile Brain 2—2:36
- Disappointment —2:32
- Hate in Outer Space—2:31
- Open Eye / Yadnus Kcalb—3:41