RepeaterFugazi - Repeater

As far as I’m concerned, Fugazi are the coolest band in musical history. Formed from the embers of Minor Threat, Rites of Spring, and Embrace (not that one) in the late eighties, they redefined how independent music could be released, marketed and consumed, selling albums and concert tickets cheap enough for kids to afford, printing and designing their own flyers and album covers, running their own label and self-managing.

They built on the punk and indie ethos that had been nascent in the States since the late seventies, and took it to its outer limits, rejecting all outside interference with their music and managing to have  a hugely successful, massively influential, 15-year career into the bargain. And that’s without even talking about the songs.

Although both Embrace (still not that one), Ian Mackaye’s previous band, and Rites of Spring, Guy Picciotto’s former group, had introduced a new understanding of moderation into the relentless screaming wall of feedback and aggression produced by bands like Mackaye’s Minor Threat, Black Flag, and Minutemen, Fugazi were the first group to master the dynamics and pioneer an altogether new sound, emotional hardcore.

The quiet / loud dynamics, jangley guitar sound, throat tearing and heart renching vocals and feedback waves would go on to influence acts as diverse as Nirvana and the Dashboard Confessional, but few would attain the peaks of brilliance repeatedly reached by Fugazi during their 15-year existence, before they announced a seemingly permanent hiatus in 2002, ending their existence with a series of live shows each recorded for posterity – producing over 30 live cd-r albums.

Repeater was their first studio album, the title a play on words around the Beatles’ Revolver (records both revolve and repeat, and both revolver and repeater are terms for guns). The song itself is a an anti-violence peon (the band were known for stopping shows to eject, usually politely, violent slam dancers, believing the practice to be reactionary and macho) dressed up in the usual dynamism of both soft, loud, and start, stop. Something about the song swirls around you like smoke, cloaking you in a haze of motion and emotion, while all the time still seeming urgent and, ironically, almost aggressive.

The picture above is not of anyone from Fugazi, in fact it was taken at a Breakfast With Wolves gig last week – they’re an unsigned London band who produce a riotous, awkward, incredible racket, you can hear them here: Myspace. But I liked the picture enough to want to use it, and its hazy, blurred aggression made me think of Fugazi’s music, and the brilliant combination of swirling feedback and jagged guitars that characterise Repeater.

You can download or purchase all of Fugazi’s albums from their own record label, Dischord, here. You can also get them on iTunes and Amazon, but I expect they’d rather you bought them direct.

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