Friday, April 2, 2010

Vertical Slit - 1990 - Vertical Slit and Beyond (US)

Vertical Slit - 1990 - Vertical Slit and Beyond (US)
As I understand it from those who know, this was the one CD to get from defiantly underground, Columbus OH-based first wave art/damage group VERTICAL SLIT, as it collected material from their 1977-78 debut records as well as from a wealth of cassette-only spewings. For those who followed the band closely, and there weren’t too many of ya, Vertical Slit & their now-deceased-by-his-own-hand leader Jim Shepard were way-outsiders revered for a sonically robust space rock that was full of cynicism and anger, and which also gained from a “submerged fidelity” aesthetic that rendered some aural puzzlement to their wailing keyboards & screaming guitars. Every time I tried to get into the band while they were around, I was stymied by actually listening to them. They stood for many things I enjoyed & continue to enjoy: conscious divorce from any ethos of the era (e.g. what the other kids are doing); reverence & obvious hardcore knowledge for their forebears (which I’ll call out as Can, Destroy All Monsters, Hawkwind, weird avant-geniuses like Kim Fowley, and a boatload of experimental music from the 20th century); and a wreck-the-speakers approach to making distorted, complex rock music. Things we all appreciate. But I always thought the end product was just “good enough” – good enough to intellectually appreciate from a distance, but never great enough to actually play repeatedly at home. 

“Vertical Slit….and Beyond” does little to challenge my initial take on ‘em, though it’s by no means a bad disc. There’s a lot of angry musical staredowns going on in each creepy 4- or 5-minute sonic mélange, which ingests some of the aforementioned influences and spit out a creative, well-differentiated artpunk that was about as basement as it gets. Shepard comes off as a pretty frustrated dude, but one who certainly knew his ass from his elbow & who probably had more ideas racing through his cranium than he did the native ability to lay them down successfully. Where Vertical Slit ended and Shepard’s other band V-3 began I cannot say; there are numbers on this one (the pissed-off revenge fantasy “Party/Cop/Judge” being one of them) that I remember from V-3 material I once owned. (V-3 are the 1990s recipient of the Hampton Grease Band award for the worst-selling and most unlikely major label record, which in both cases means it was pretty good – great in the Grease Band’s case). If I could pick out even one track as the number I’d throw on my “Modern ArtPunk Space Pirates, Volume 4” comp CD-R for you, I’d at least have a Vertical Slit ditty to hang my hat on. But alas, such a number does not exist. Again, on paper it’s a potent brew, but I’d be shirking my duty as a teller of truth if I gave the Slit any more than the meritocratic 3 stars they dutifully earned. Respectful disagreements or new ways of seeking sonic truth are heartily welcomed. 
source Agony Shorthand blog (link)


psycho said...

this is awesome. i never heard of these guys i took a chance and downloaded. i loved it thanks

p.s. any chance you might have the
the nixe lp??? or outta print rave up stuff

isksp said...

nixe from netherlands? yeah, i've some of them material... i'll post over here, it's a good call