April 26, 2003

Crawling Chaos "The Gas CHair"

I have to ask a question about Crawling Chaos: what were they thinking? They were a band on Factory, though I seriously doubt that they were on anyone's mind when it came time for the Romantic Rememberences of Tony Wilson. There's really not much information on them, and there's really no need for any, either. What's to say? They were weird. Sure, it's easy to give them a little bit of credit twenty years after, and the record certainly sounds dated, but still--to be the oddest-sounding band twenty years ago was quite an accomplishment.

And I think I may have answered my own question right there.

At the time Factory referred to Crawling Chaos as "a cross between Status Quo and Orchestral Manoeuvres," but those words come off as rather vague, because there's really no way you can totally describe this. Sure, there are little bits and pieces that sound like things going on at the time, such as "Macabre Royale" and "Creamo Coyl," but the oddness that follows really, truly, is one without precedence. Crawling Chaos is not for the dour, humorless type--which, sadly, describes many of the art-school types who are currently buying into the revival. (It also explains why this record--a rarity in its own right--never sold at one Austin record store. Perhaps the "this is the worst Factory record EVER" tag didn't help!)

That's not to say that Crawling Chaos isn't funny, because it is. Terribly funny. I know that I fell out laughing at "Guinness," and I had a big smile on my face for the rest of the album. As this is a lovingly-reissued record from those historic-minded folk at LTM, The Gas Chair reissue also contains Crawling Chaos' first single, "Sex Machine," one of the funniest, dirtiest, and disturbingly wonderful songs you'll ever hear. If any record deserves the lazy music-writer's phrase "you really have to hear it to appreciate it," it's this record. It has no equal, before or after. Of course, there's also the faint scent of "this was a sneaky side project from someone who wishes to remain anonymous," too--though, for once, a LTM reissue is quite vague in its liner notes, opting for choice quotes from confounded reviewers. Oh well, a laugh's a laugh, and quite witty you are, Crawling Chaos!

The Gas Chair isn't a Factory record that the "i'm into the Factory scene even though I wasn't born yet" hipsters barely-20 kids of today will be mentioning anytime soon. I played it for one--who shall remain nameless--and they thought I was joking with them. Their young nose turned up quiite quickly, and they couldn't make it through track five--they preferred the Wake and Section 25, after all. It's too bad, really, because "Breaking Down"--the last song on the original album--sounds an awful lot like modern American indie-rock.

Perhaps they're still ahead of their time.

--Joseph Kyle


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