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savage republic from phoenix times

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  • stevolende
    this is a review of the rereleases of the studio stuff by the next band i m going to write the history of -just thought you might be interested -heavy psychy
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28, 2002
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      this is a review of the rereleases of the studio stuff by the next
      band i'm going to write the history of -just thought you might
      be interested -heavy psychy stuff tho not 60s
      is their website just in case you's tempted by the review

      Savage Republic
      Box Set (Mobilization Recordings)
      . . . and then God created the Savage Republic. Circa early '81, in
      the transverse utility tunnels beneath the UCLA campus to be precise,
      spontaneously combusting in a post-punk/industrial clatter of guitar,
      two basses, drums and scrap-heap percussion -- Joy Division and
      Einstürzende Neubauten colluding on the Can songbook in a crowded,
      noisy Ethiopian bazaar. Later adding keyboards, tapes and assorted
      stringed things, SavRep wound up lasting for four albums, eight years
      and numerous lineup changes (Sedona artist and guitarist for the
      group Scenic, Bruce Licher, was the one member common to each
      lineup). It left behind a rather handsome corpse whose twitching
      influence is still felt in the rock underground.

      That twitch is felt anew via four new remastered reissues of Savage
      Republic's studio legacy. 1982's Tragic Figures is an artifact of
      feral intent, its mélange of transnational sound at once owing to
      rock tradition yet contradictory enough in its synthesis to suggest
      the very term "savage republic." Even the song titles themselves held
      forth extant purpose: "Attempted Coup: Madagascar" is all ominous
      bass skronk and drum circle conjure; "Exodus" is a frantic retreat of
      paranoid guitar shrieks and skull-thwacking percussive angst; the
      edgy, gear-grinding riffs on "Machinery" are punctuated by drill-
      press vocal barks worthy of The Fall's Mark E. Smith.

      Next came 1986's instrumental Trudge EP and the full-length
      Ceremonial, here paired on one CD with the latter material presented
      as it was originally conceived, also all-instrumental (the original
      vinyl edition had vocals on several tracks). Again, titles perfectly
      forecast the music, from the searing, pounding tribal psychedelia
      of "Trudge" and the violent, dizzying churn of "Siege" to the
      serenely cinematic, distinctively Morricone-esque
      travelogue "Andelusia" and the acoustic, Middle Eastern-
      tinged "Mediterranea." These are easily Savage Republic's
      most "accessible" moments and remain highly favored among fans.

      But it's the tongue-curling Jamahiriya Democratique et Populaire de
      Sauvage, from 1988, that, in retrospect, represents SavRep at powers-
      pinnacle. Boasting an expansive sonic ambiance and tautly wound
      arrangements, it burns from start to finish as a rock album (albeit
      one industrially and ethnically flavored). As if to suggest just
      that, there's even a surprising cover of Alternative TV's snarky
      anthem "Viva la Rock 'n' Roll." Amid extended forays toward the heart
      of the sun (the shuddering, Floydian "Tabula Rasa"; the title track's
      supersonic cyber-space boogie), pogo-dives into the mosh pit (the
      turbulent, at times Stooges-like "Lethal Muse") and outright nods to
      the aforementioned Joy Division and Can (check the Peter Hook-y bass
      line and Damo Suzuki-styled vocals in "Moujahadeen"), Savage Republic
      carved out a unique patch of turf whose exotic veneer masked the land
      mines hidden a few inches below the surface.

      The fourth and last studio album, 1989's Customs, was recorded in a
      whirlwind and under stressful circumstances while the group was
      temporarily stranded in Greece during a 1988 European trek. As such,
      its rawer, more dissonant/discordant overall sound is daunting at
      times, although there's a satisfying edginess in, say, the blurted
      vocals and PIL-like sonics of "Sucker Punch" or the industrial-gospel
      drone textures of "The Birds of Pork." One live bonus track, an
      improvised freakout (and Steve Albini nod) called "Rapeman's First
      EP," is added to the album, giving the listener a sense of the
      monumental sheet of noise the band could erect in concert. (Two live
      SavRep albums were also issued, in '87 and in '90.)

      As per the original vinyl releases, the Licher-designed CD reissues
      come handsomely packaged in elaborate hand-letterpress-printed
      Discfolios along with complementary inserts; the albums are available
      individually or as a slipcase-enclosed boxed set. Bonus tracks --
      singles, compilation cuts, instrumental mixes -- round out each disc.

      Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore once noted that Savage Republic was one
      of the great, underrated American bands. (Listen to portions of
      1985's Bad Moon Rising or the official live SY bootleg from '86, The
      Walls Have Ears, and you'll detect the influence.) These days,
      visionary hyphen-rock outfits such as Mogwai, Bardo Pond and
      Godspeed! You Black Emperor continue to carry the torch. But
      listening to this transcendent four-CD assemblage prods anew the
      listener's primal instincts into flickering awareness, like a
      Sisyphean journey into the heart of some uncharted savage republic.
      The horror, the horror of it all -- viva la rock 'n' roll.

      phoenixnewtimes.com | originally published: April 18, 2002
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