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Shipping News 

Very Soon, and in Pleasant Company (Touch and Go)

When John Lydon quit the Sex Pistols, feeling cheated, he moved on to something he called "anti-music," the idea being that a droning repetitive assault would hypnotize or draw listeners in to the point that their minds could begin to create their own music out of the monotony. Lydon and Public Image Limited came close to fulfilling those ideals on PiL's first outing, Metal Box (now existing as Second Edition on CD). But in the wake of such a theory came any number of bands who took the root of that ideal and carved it into their own deconstruction of sounds.

Twenty years later, Shipping News uses its latest record, Very Soon, and in Pleasant Company, to reaffirm the widespread roots that PiL spawned. The difference is that, in the course of evolution, bands such as the Shipping News have reshaped the minimalist approach into one that embraces only traces of traditional songs -- melody, some structure, and a bit of tunefulness. On Very Soon, the band takes a quiet and slightly droning approach three songs deep before increasing the volume on an instrumental cut titled "Nine Bodies, Nine States," which comes close to accomplishing a jazz/rock parallel many have attempted before without success. Yet, while "Nine Bodies" has dynamics that carry through several listens, the rest of Very Soon tends to meander through noodling and sound effects more than it builds any sense of composition. The band never keeps things going in one direction long enough to coalesce. In the end, Very Soon is mood music that never sets a mood.

More by Kurt Hernon


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