The Joup Friday Album: SHELLAC ‘1,000 Hurts’

There are so many things to consider when the occasion calls for you to pluck an album out of your (re)collection, or hard drive and hold it up as representative of yourself and assure others it’ll be worthy of up to three quarters of an hour of their time. The scope for selection is so wide, I have to blinker this decision with some relevance either to previous posts, the fact that it’s a Friday, or maybe it just has to have an opening track that has you ensnared from the get go. This album has as memorable an opener as any.

The idea for this record came to me initially because of Tom’s post at the beginning of the year for the similarly titled ‘10,000 Hz Legend’ by Air. I also choose this album as a challenge to myself to try and make a dent in Shawn’s chronic Albini aversion. By the time the aforementioned record had been released, my palate had evolved beyond a previously strict adherence to a fairly narrow spectrum of music, specifically harder styles which had long been abandoned with the result of rendering heavy or aggressive bands almost laughable in my eyes/ears, but I was re-educated a year prior to ‘10,000 Hz Legend’ with this unassailable retort to such musical snootiness.

SHELLAC sound horrible in the most delicious way. Instruments are recorded with an Alan Splet level of attention to ambient and elemental detail; you can almost hear every plectrum-connect with segmented ridge of string as it seemingly audibly uncoils into wire wool as electricity palpably hangs in the air like it did the first time you stood in front of an amplifier. Every drum-hit is a kick in the gut reverberating and resonating with all the portent of gunshots coming from the High School Gym. The album meanders into interesting instrumental interludes and challenging time signatures that require listener engagement, even basic numeracy to follow and anticipate the changes and pay offs. While the lyrical content might at times seem to simply superficially compliment the aggression of the instrumentation, its bile is too viscous, too ludicrous to take completely seriously, eventually falling on the side of blackly sardonic without teetering over into novelty or pastiche. It’s a fine line, and this repugnant/hilarious juxtaposition straddles it to fascinating effect.

Nothing I could write about opening track ‘Prayer To God’ could do it the justice of the unique experience of listening to it unravel, suffice to say that after a seemingly endless plea for divine, homicidal intervention, the final word on the intent of the author might just be revealed in the final lyric.

And by the time we get to ‘Squirrel Song’ well, if you don’t dig it by now, you never will.

“This isn’t some kind of metaphor. Goddamn, this is REAL!”

As always, playlist is embedded here as a sonic vol-au-vent, if you like what you hear xeroxed through the guts of someone’s computer and YouTube, BUY THE RECORD!

The Magic 8 Ball is packed away in a box in lieu of a potential move, Tommy, it’s been a couple of weeks…


Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks

Chester Whelks is a peripheral figure on the fringes of existence. Predominantly bothering the local music scene of his native Manchester, England, he has a very finely attuned Justice-button, and knows how to call a spade a ‘Multi-Purpose Murder/Concealment Device’.

3 Responses to The Joup Friday Album: SHELLAC ‘1,000 Hurts’
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    Oh, no need to apologize at all sir. And the In Utero I so strongly dislike is the post-Albini mix. Now that I’ve heard his I – as I knew I would – like it better. I’m still not a huge fan of about a fourth of the album though, and that affects my liking of it as an ‘album’. Some of the individual songs are outstanding, I just never thought it held up as a solid album.

  2. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    Great choice sir, but I must ask why you think I have an aversion to Mr. Albini. I LOVE his recording work and I LOVE his bands. This album and Big Black’s Songs About Fucking are two of the best examples of a ‘heavy’ or aggressive record who’s sonic thumbprint perfectly fits its textures. I bought “Hertz” shortly after it came out and it has remained a favorite ever since.

    The bass tones on this record… oh man. Deliciously caustic!

    • Chester Whelks Reply

      Shawn, I think I’ve misdiagnosed an Albini allergy, based primarily on you saying you disliked (hated?!) the production of ‘In Utero’. You then said something in the comments of your Polly Jean piece about ‘eventually’ getting round to listening to ‘Rid Of Me’ at some point in the future ‘now you knew Albini produced it’ that I took as being sarcastic based on my thinking you disliked him because of your distaste for ‘In Utero’s sound!

      Apologies for getting you wrong.

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