Friday, 2 January 2009



With my entry point to Pavement being Wowee Zowee this compilation felt something of a rude awakening when picked up and sampled.  These weren’t songs, they were jams.  And I did not yet know what jams were.

For the longest time I worked with this record, attempted to force myself to like it.  I borrowed it from my local library, copied it onto a cassette (with Green by REM on the other side) and played it in my Ford Escort trying desperately to uncover some hooks and/or rhythms.  My friend Metal Dan also borrowed it from the library and openly mocked me for liking the band and I could not defend my decision based on these tracks alone.

Gradually a few songs began to shine through (such as “Debris Slide” and “From Now On”) but on the whole it was too meticulous and playful to intricately examine.  I had barely discovered The Fall and had yet to learn that such obstinance was permissible.  Certainly when I tried it on at home with my mother in earshot it was deemed not right.  That said I had heard Guided By Voices by this stage (Alien Lanes) so short songs were beginning to make sense to me.

This was actually the album I listened to in the car on the night that I met my future cohorts in Gringo Records.  I was driving up on my way to a Urusei Yatsura gig at the Colchester Arts Centre still trying to get a handle on lo-fi.  Indeed during the gig I would find myself disagreeing with Tom later of Hirameka who insisted that Urusei sounded like the Pixies when they blatantly ransacked “Spizzle Trunk” on their own track “Pow R. Ball”.

Westing is a collection of the band’s first three EPs and its first single and b-sides.  Offered in chronology it is Slay Tracks (1933-1969), Demolition Plot J-7 and Perfect Sound Forever.  Originally just Malkmus and Kannberg, Slay Tracks was recorded while the band members lived on opposite sides of America before the band even had its name.  Gradually drummer Gary Young was roped in but by the release of the 10 inch Perfect Sound Forever Malkmus had left the band to be a museum guard in Virginia where he had gone to university and met Nastanovich and David Berman of the Silver Jews who they initially backed and played in.  Of course finally they got back going, got back on the horse.

It begins with the hiss of “You’re Killing Me”.  This could be the sound of a Disney snake.  With this the next track “Box Elder” expresses the desire to “get the fuck out of this town”.  From the off this was not a normal band.  And “Maybe, Maybe” gives off the impression that it is using Coke bottles for drums.

Throughout distortion and feedback is the rock.  “She Believes” emerges like the beginning of the Nirvana lost track “Endless Nameless” without actually going anywhere.  Indeed more than once the band gives off the impression that they do not know how to finish a song yet.  And on that note “Heckler Spray” is best described as the sounding like the beginning of something great without actually getting there.

As they continue to mess around “Mercy: The Laundromat” sounds like a cack-handed drunk nursery rhyme while “Krell Vid-User” resembles the tuning of a radio.

Towards the end we arrive at “Summer Baby” (also known as “Summer Babe”) which is probably the first sensible song/track the band recorded.  Sat chronological it is distinctly noticeable how the songs of the band have developed by the end as “Baptiss Blacktick” offers the most vibrant and lively atonement while “My First Mine” with its Fall crossed with Beefheart plod actually holds a chorus and a hook.  It sounds like “Gramme Friday” from Grotesque.  Well done.

Listening to this collection is not an enjoyable experience.

Thesaurus moment: jejune.

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