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No Anchor – Real Pain Supernova (self-released)

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by Scott Creney

Oh, the agony. Right from the start I can tell that No Anchor and I are probably not going to be friends. Real Pain Supernova? As opposed to a Sham Pain Supernova?

Don’t be fooled by the title. No Anchor is not joking around. No Anchor is the sound of serious white masculine men taking the world, and themselves, as seriously as white masculine men can take these things (which we all know is very serious indeed). Their music is tied to its genre (pick your metal prefix – thrash, sludge, drone, doom, stoner), and never strays outside its constraints, which means Black Sabbath chord changes, and a huge Melvins influence, as well as Boris, a bit of Sunn O))), Earth, etc. [Remind me one day to tell you the story of how Dylan Carlson once told me he’d been motivated to form Earth after seeing The Legend! perform live in Portland – Ed] And like most of this music, it sounds like the members live in an exclusively heterosexual treehouse made from steel and painted black, with a sign on the door that reads in big letters ‘No Girls Allowed’.

No Anchor is angry about something. I’ve been trying to figure out the what and the why for three days now, and I’m still not any closer. But as artistic statements go, I’m just not sure I find brutal testosterone all that compelling. At least not by itself, as the entire painting.

Nevertheless, No Anchor are at their most effective when they rage, when they put their heads down and rock. Or when they slow down, when they pull back and contemplate the ringing echoes all around them. Unfortunately, most of this double LP exists in a middle-ground between the two, a mid-tempo crawl that —for me, anyway — soon wears out its welcome.

I like it when the 17-minute ‘Gatton Bohemia’ devolves into pure noise, blows of feedback that summon up images of dinosaurs being swallowed up by tar pits. I could listen to that bit forever. It’s one of the few moments when No Anchor comes within spitting distance of transcending their influences.

At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Dead Pony’, which may or may not be based on a real-life experience, is No Anchor at their most ferocious. It is fantastic. But what about that pony? Did No Anchor kill it? Did it die of natural causes? An equestrian assassin? Or is it just an (odd, I’ll admit) Fatima Mansions reference? Is it a cover of this Nico Stai song?

I’m pretty sure it is not a cover of this Nico Stai song. In fact, I am definitely sure that neither of us had ever heard of Nico Stai until now, and we would all be better off if I hadn’t looked it up in the first place. Maybe the title is another joke? A reference to the whole ‘beating a dead horse’ thing?’ Maybe it’s about killing heroin?

Either way, I hope the double LP comes with a lyric sheet.

Listening to No Anchor, it’s hard not to hear a weaker, less interesting version of their heroes. The best of this style of music blows your face off like a jet engine. First and foremost it should be impressive. It should force you to take a step back, slightly dumbfounded. Real Pain Supernova has its moments, but for the most part it is more brooding than brutal. It doesn’t rage so much as it slumps. It staggers more often than it swaggers. And not from a lack of effort. In fact, the biggest problem with No Anchor may be that it all too often sounds like effort. In place of transcendence, it offers cement.

By the end of the double album, it’s one ‘When The Levee Breaks’ drum beat too many, it’s one more incoherent scream into the abyss. And all you’re left with is a 50-minute soundtrack for stomping around the apartment, lumbering from foot to foot like a rampaging monster, bestriding your beige carpet like a neutered colossus.

The band lives in Brisbane. From what I can gather on the internet, they seem like very nice, sincere, decent people, with shitloads of integrity. For that alone, we should probably be grateful, and attempt to encourage them whenever possible.

26 Responses to No Anchor – Real Pain Supernova (self-released)

  1. Matt May 3, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I haven’t heard it so, in regards to accuracy, I have no idea if you’re ‘correct’ or not – but that was still one fucking hell cool review.

  2. Dex May 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    This review blows

  3. Darragh May 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I haven’t heard this record but I note somewhat of an inaccuracy.

    “And like most of this music, it sounds like the members live in an exclusively heterosexual treehouse made from steel and painted black, with a sign on the door that reads in big letters ‘No Girls Allowed’.”

    Boris, which the reviewer refers to as part of this sort of music as well as a clear influence on No Anchor, has a female member. The drummer, I believe.

  4. Darragh May 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Also, I don’t know how a heterosexual treehouse necessarily excludes women. Shouldn’t it be a male homosexual treehouse? 🙂 🙂 Or perhaps a ‘patriachial’ treehouse.

  5. Tom May 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Re: Boris – the guitar player, Wata, is the female member.

  6. Brendan May 3, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    it sounds like the members live in an exclusively heterosexual treehouse made from steel and painted black, with a sign on the door that reads in big letters ‘No Girls Allowed’.

    Does this make Donny Bi given his drumming duties in Butcher Birds?

  7. Darragh May 3, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Tom – sorry, yep, you’re correct, Wata is the guitarist, not drummer as I said, my mistake.

  8. Jo May 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    UM I SANG on this record and I am a girl last time i checked, did you actually listen to this record?

  9. Everett True May 4, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Did you actually listen to this record?

    I would bloody hope not! One of the cardinal rules for contributing to Collapse Board is that under no circumstances are writers allowed to listen to the music they write about first. I like to think of it as one of CB’s Unique Selling Points.

  10. BOTMAN 5000 May 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    “And all you’re left with is a 50-minute soundtrack for stomping around the apartment, lumbering from foot to foot like a rampaging monster, bestriding your beige carpet like a neutered colossus.”

    Clunky over-adjectivised similies aside, that kinda sounds like the best record ever…can’t wait for these guys to launch the LP next Friday and get my hands on the vinyl.

    Thanks for the review! I disagree with your opinion completely (it’s a record about love, for Bog’s sake…) but that’s the beauty of the cybernet, right?

    BOTMAN 5000

  11. benjamin May 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    well….Ian was in the” Hetrosexual treehouse” that was Iron On :-p
    research research research

  12. Everett True May 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    research research research

    Sorry Benjamin. Another of the cardinal rules for contributing to Collapse Board is that under no circumstances whatsoever are writers allowed to research the music they write about. This isn’t bloody university, you know! I like to think of it as another of CB’s Unique Selling Points.

  13. Scott Creney May 5, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I read the first four pages of the band’s blogspot, visited the band’s myspace & facebook pages, and read the sonic masala review. If you’re not happy with that amount of research, tell Everett to send me a press release next time, or put more information on your websites. There are 2 videos of the band on youtube, both of them over two years old. None of these make any reference to any of No Anchor’s previous bands, who sang or did not sing on the album, or their sexuality. Jo, I’m sorry if I missed your vocal contribution, but I assure you I listened to the album. More than twice, even. I caught a couple stretched where the voice was a little higher, but y’know, it was still lower pitched than the guy from Whitesnake. Again, it would have been impossible to know.

    The sentence that keeps bothering people, “And like most of this music, it sounds like the members live in an exclusively heterosexual treehouse made from steel and painted black, with a sign on the door that reads in big letters ‘No Girls Allowed’,” is meant to describe the band’s sound. It is what we call a metaphor (the key phrase is ‘sounds like’). I am also pretty certain the band don’t ACTUALLY live in a treehouse. I’m surprised no one’s bothered to point that out for me. As for the gender ratio, sexuality, whatever, of the people involved in this record, let me just state that I don’t think it makes one damn bit of difference. Lita Ford had a big hit with this song in the 80’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fckR5u2ukeQ. It doesn’t mean hair metal wasn’t driven by macho testosterone. And L7 had a hit with this song in the 90’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAdlZ2F-fs8. It doesn’t mean early 90’s alternative/grunge wasn’t an island of masculinity.

    Please note that I did not say the album, or any of the band members, were sexist, or anti-women for that matter. I just think the record sounds like ‘macho dude rock’. Nothing wrong with that. No moral judgement or anything. Best of luck to the band and their supporters in the future.

  14. Matt May 5, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Jesus, some people are bitchy. I thought it was pretty obvious what he meant by the treehouse comment. It meant Music For Dudes.

    “Oh shit, I hear one of them has a girlfriend – bang goes that theory. Music for dudes can only be made or listened to by dudes who bang other dudes. Otherwise it’s just like, pseudo-dude music, dude.”

    For the record, I think No Anchor are bitchin’ as all get out. I still enjoyed this review, though.

    (Real win of this page goes to Everett’s comments, though.)

  15. Darragh May 5, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Scott & Matt – Yeah, I realised thats what the review is saying, but I think that by using a generalisation such ‘music for dudes’ in relation to sound dynamics sounds wrong to me.

    What is ‘music for non-dudes’? Is it music that doesn’t involve crunching bass sounds and screeching vocals regardless of the actual gender of people involved in making it (i.e such as Wata from Boris)?

    I’m not being explictly critical of the review as such, just raising a discussion point.

  16. Matt May 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Well, that’s a complicated debate that largely ends up as a matter of political correctness. Do you use terminology someone will understand at the risk of offending someone or do you err on the side of caution at the risk of obfuscating your point? Personally, I tend to prioritise the former because I think it’s more functional than the latter. Are there exceptions? Definitely – but it’s a case by case basis and if the only reason for withholding a phrase is because it will offend someone, I usually use it anyway.

    To be clear, I do concede there are limits – like using a racial slur, for example – but, in those instances, I think the phrase in question graduates from being merely offensive to being genuinely harmful. I don’t think referring to something as Manly Music is particularly damaging to anyone or anything and it does get the point across. I understand it may perpetuate a stereotype but I don’t think it does so on any meaningful level or to any harmful degree. Some may disagree and I understand why – but that’s my take on matters.

  17. Darragh May 5, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Matt – well said. My line of thought on this leads me back to that perennial feminist debate of whether women should strive to rights within the male dominated social system itself or strive to disobey the system entirely, though this discussion might be a bit inappropriate on an article seekign to discuss the quality of No Anchor’s record.

  18. Deb May 6, 2011 at 10:07 am

    “Again, it would have been impossible to know:”

    http://noanchor.bandcamp.com/track/key-cutter-2

    (go to 5:20 for a chorus of female vocals)

    http://noanchor.bandcamp.com/track/come-again-2

    (go to 1:09 for Jo Nilson’s guest lead vocals)

  19. Scott Creney May 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks, Deb. I totally missed the minute-long chorus of female vocals at the end of ‘Key Cutter.’ Sorry about that. As for Jo’s guest vocals, I (as stated above) did notice a couple of stretches of high-pitched vocals, but y’know, not that far from Ozzy or Robert Plant. I don’t assume that just because a voice is higher-pitched that it automatically belongs to a woman. That would be sexist.

    But hell, what do I know? Up until earlier this week, I thought every band from Australia sounded like Midnight Oil.

  20. Everett True May 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I’m reviewing this album for Mess + Noise. To counter Scott’s astonishing oversight in not mentioning the couple of minutes of female vocals on this album, I’ve decided that it will be the sole focus of my review.

  21. Matt May 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I didn’t think women could even make music. Aren’t they all publicists or some shit?

  22. Darragh May 12, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Looks like CB got its answer on Dead Pony from the band itself!!

    http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=717642ea365e5028b12272e05&id=e0b4c69ac1

  23. Darragh May 12, 2011 at 11:54 am

    …specifically “Dead Pony is about a nightmare Ian had in which his girlfriend peeled off her own face.”

  24. FN June 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    ‘Please note that I did not say the album, or any of the band members, were sexist, or anti-women for that matter. I just think the record sounds like ‘macho dude rock’.’

    Maybe you should have just said that instead of using exhausting and frustrating hyperbole. Less is more.

  25. Everett True June 2, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Less is more.

    Bangs forbid that you should seek to entertain or offer insights into the music while writing, Scott!

  26. Everett True June 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Here’s my ‘answer’ review.

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