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Artist: Sightings

Album: Sightings

Label: Load

Review date: Apr. 16, 2002

Ah yes...Load Records - the Rhode Island label that's always willing to kick you in the teeth with a finely honed aural assault just when you feel as though if you hear another whiny, wussy, oh-so-in-touch-with-their-feminine side indie rock band you will not only punch them in the face, but possibly yourself and anyone else who may be in the vicinity. And now, from that very same label that brought you long and short players from such assaulting bands as Brainbombs, Olneyville Sound System, and Lightning Bolt comes the new LP from New York scum rockers Sightings.

Initially, the band's new eleven song disc sounds reminiscent of a lot of great, if not difficult, noise rockers of past years, as there are bits and pieces of bands such as Pussy Galore and Harry Pussy all over this one. The sound and the approach seem almost identical, too - improvised music run through a filter of wacked out free jazz and through-and-through punk rock stylings until the results become a tangled, jumbled squall of detuned (or perhaps D-tuned? must reconsider...) guitar skronk, punctuated by thudding bass and trash can percussion. Truth be told, it's really difficult to work in this style of music without bearing some similarities to other noise rockers. It's even more of a challenge to pull it off with out sounding wanky, masturbatory, or boring. Thankfully, Sightings duck all these downfalls and deliver the goods - twenty-six minutes of concise, furious noise blasts that stretch minutes and seconds out over eons of a pure, aggravated assault on your ears.

"Two Thoughts" opens the record in the best way possible - a solid twenty second burst of chaos. Mark Morgan punishes his guitar and microphone, hammering out razor thin guitar wires that bear some antecedent in Steve Albini's guitar sounds, pausing during breaks to screech "I've got two thoughts but I cannot come in!" "Don West" is even more of an exercise in controlled skronk. John Lockie's drums are submerged to the point where they sound like dull thuds on the back of your skull after a long night, while the guitar moves uneasily in every direction. "Cuckoo" actually approaches a standard song format (well, almost), and while not changing any of the sounds already tossed out on the record, stands out as one of the more "accessible" (term used loosely) tracks on the record. The guitar is more restrained on "I Feel Like A Porsche", allowing the track to rely more on the thunderthud of a beat that's buried somewhere in the mix. "Pitch Of My Voice" once again almost sounds like rock song, albeit a rock song with grating guitar line, and a repetitive thudding beat that sounds less like your average drums and more like pieces of metal being smacked furiously. "Leather Pants Couple" falls apart like any good noise rock should, before quickly blasting a good fifteen seconds of song-like material. "45 On The Back" is controlled chaos at its best - manic drumming, the same chicken wire guitar sound, and the bass of Richard Hoffman lurking somewhere in the shadows.

It's nothing new to channel no wave or bands like Sonic Youth for inspiration these days. At the same time, however, Sightings realizes this and does their best to make a solid, confrontational record that sounds like the soundtrack too all your worst nightmares, only this time if they took place in the compacting section of a trash truck. Despite the tendency for some of the tracks to blur together, they succeed admirably. Personally, I always find records of this type of material to be so immobile that they are extremely moving. The tracks don't proceed from point A to point B, but at the same time, they don't really need to either. The guitar wails, the bass thuds, and the drums keep time in some far off region of space, allowing Sightings to capture the sound of their chaos. Sure, this kind of stuff isn't for everyone, but if you like your Dice Black, your Pussy of the Harry variety, and even your Bolts to be Lightning, the odds are that you'll dig this record something fierce.

By Michael Crumsho

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