The Joup Friday Album: (smog) ‘Accumulation: None’

smog accumulation noneThat kid who sat at the back of the class, seemingly almost monochromatic except for his Egon Schiele pink-tinged skin? You never heard of him again. You assume he was institutionalised after leaving school for the strange things he was rumoured to be doing to the neighbourhood pets in his bedroom. Or perhaps he even managed to drift along under the radar for a while until he finally did that hushed-up ‘something’ that got him put away for the rest of his natural days. It thrills my soul to think, that for someone in the world, that kid has wandered back into their consciousness as a bona fide dyed-in-the-wool purveyor of American song. The signs were already apparent on the aptly named ‘Supper’, the penultimate, most accomplished album of Smog’s career to that point. The songs were sumptuously crafted, achingly poignant or else chugged-along rockingly, teeming with an abundance of astute observation delivered in his trademark laconic style. After declaring his love for a watercourse, the Smog lifted, and along with it, so did his mood…albeit temporarily, making it easy to forget that this monochromatic, Egon Schiele-skinned kid used to do strange things to his tape recorder in his bedroom.

Callahan has become the sole survivor of Drag City’s original roster, standing alone as an enviable testament to their faith in experimental, discordant little upstarts. While it’d be sycophantically ridiculous to say that either of Drag City’s two Dans saw in Callahan what he has now become, they clearly foresaw that the ideas that fizzed & popped away behind that blank stare were always going to lead somewhere at least interesting. What IS increasingly interesting, is that this kid who terrorised tape recorders with make-do instrumentation, laying down fuzzy repetitive paeans to Insane Cops looming ominously in rearview mirrors, or the Son of God (who doesn’t drip acid and is not, according to Bill “a seminal member of New York’s ‘Go-Wave’ scene“) has become what might be considered…well, MOR.

If ever his evolution was roadmapped, it was inadvertently done-so on this 2002 collection of scratchy bastard singles, b-sides and radio sessions of rarities; ranging from the oddball lo-fi ‘Astronaut’ and stop-start ‘Hit’ to the piano grandeur of self proclaimed proficiency in animal husbandry that is the beautifully epic ‘I Break Horses’.

Tagging Tommy.

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’.

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