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Albini hasn’t lost any of his aggression over the years; as the well-known saying goes, “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” The music from these two singles is no-nonsense, sounding like the product from disfigured human rhythm machines. Both “The Guy Who Invented Fire” and “Rambler Song” from The Rude Gesture (a pictorial history) move like fifty-year-old freight trains on cracked and rusted tracks, complete with their own rumbling and squeals. The two chug forward at a pace of eight miles an hour, punishing anything and everything in their path. “Billiard Player Song” is sort of Rapeman-ish with rolling bass, scratch guitar, and stop/start discontinuities.
From Uranus, the A-side “Doris” is my favorite, being the most lyrically intense of Shellac’s songs: “Doris has had some things go wrong in her little life … there are things she doesn’t talk about / there are things she only tells her mom / there are things she never tells anyone.” Like an active volcano, the song begins subtly and later erupts with huge sheets of hot red molten noise. It’s flawless. The menacing bass line of the flip side, “Wingwalker,” is comparable to “Billiard Player Song,” the b side from the first single.
Shellac offers power and precision unlike any other. This band resists all that is ugly and cruel to the individual spirit in the most exceptional, extraordinary, and bizarre fashion.