Chrome – Red Exposure (Cherry Red)
By Scott Creney
Chrome’s music is sheets of noise. Icy walls of sound. A polar acid trip. You can almost lick the penguins.
This reissue is proof that Chrome actually existed, that somehow they might continue to matter, that their time may still be yet to come.
The San Francisco band lasted from 1977-1983 and recorded nine albums in that time—this is album #4. They were a Californian Suicide, a Swell Maps in love with Kraftwerk and decay, a Birthday Party obsessed with outer space and technology instead of the USA (or Elvis, or the Blues, or the Bible) and guitars. This was the real science friction, insistent and otherworldly.
Yet, despite the strangeness and vivid nightmarish quality of the lyrics, you can’t separate the band from the reality of their west-coast environment. Chrome’s music contained the kind of bleak violence that 350 cloudless days a year will drive you towards. The advent of plastic surgery only allowed people to externalize something that had been inside them all along. And of course California, in thrall with a dream that was (and continues to be) both absurdly attractive and totally false, would fall the first and fall the hardest for the myth that you can be beautiful and young forever.
Funny thing about myths: Seeing through them gives you the power of knowledge, or feeling unique. But it can also fill you with a particular kind of rage, the impotent certainty that you aren’t ever going to change anything, that you will always be outnumbered by the blissful & happy. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy, to cause them to retreat further and further into themselves. And there’s a hermit-like insularity in the music of Chrome, a desperate and bleak claustrophobia that is totally compelling, provided you’re into that kind of thing.
I’d be shocked if Tearist hasn’t heard this. Me, I’d always meant to check them out but never got around to it. It’s easy sometimes to feel like you’ve heard it all before. But you haven’t heard everything. You never will. There’s always something, an excitement just around the corner. Apparently, this wasn’t even their best album.