Contrast is the name of the game here. Chicago’s Milemarker have straddled the line between.
“Satanic Versus" is a fully produced finished product, produced by Steve Albini,even. “Satanic Versus” is produced by the band, and if it’s not to your liking, the interactiveportion of the CD gives you the ability to remix it all to your liking. “Satanic Versus” is analog and digital, gothic and punk, loud and soft, screamy and melodic, practiced and improvisational. Really. The band isn’t big on computers and technology, yet their new CD is a multimedia extravaganza.
As musical conversationalists, Milemarker invite all kinds of conversation and discourse on their music, performances, and ideals. And that gives them “thinking band cred,” a hot but rare commodity these days. They also acknowledge that by doing things their way (a.k.a. living up to their own standards), sometimes things get flawed – if you go to their web page (www.milemarker.org), you will see a page full of fixes for all the technological blips in this CD. You will also be invited into a very theory-laden discussion of their aesthetics versus behavior versus performance styles and standards. It’s worth the read, even if you’re not 100% into their scene. I’m reminded of Bad Religion’s scientific field-study awardsâ€¦ It’s fantastic that a band encourages such critical thinking and self reflexivity among their fans – by doing so, they help create a scene that has more going for it than just cool tunes and spiffy haircuts.
That Milemarker’s behavior and code of bandsmanship ethics impressed me more than theirmusic doesn’t really say much, simply because their style of lo-fi high tech doesn’t crank my motor. To me, “Satanic Versus” sounds like just another Atari Teenage Riot inspired album; filled with more energy and experimentation than craft. Which isn’t really a bad thing, in fact, if I’d had this back in ’86, I would have played it over and over and over until the disc itself bled. However, now that I’m older and a bit more selective (read: crotchety), I prefer a bit of skill to take the edge off.
But that’s just me. Go listen for yourself. It’s worth it. And with that comes the final divergenceâ€¦ Milemarker – love â€˜em or hate â€˜em, your choice – but you can’t help being affected.