Archive for the ‘Negative Reinforcement’ Category

Review: Negative Reinforcement– ‘Dog’

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Negative Reinforcement
Coffin Cut

The world felt thick as hell, man. I couldn’t do anything; microwave a meal, take a shower, apply for jobs, whatever. The bottom had fallen out. Sometimes I’d just walk around the house yelling at stuff– towels, desks, pillows– which feels ridiculous to type and worse to think about. Here and there, I’d get together enough to go out and see people or get some work done, but if that didn’t end up in me cracking up and leaving early or getting pissed as hell, bawling and making a series of thoughtless phone calls, then it didn’t happen at all. All through that month, I found myself returning to Dog more than anything else; nothing else could gather my attention so fiercely. Why was this? Firstly, it’s quick and brutal. Some might question the thinking behind a one-sided 12? (I sure used to scratch my head whenever someone did it for about a second and half) but the virtues became pretty obvious very quickly to me; the idea is that you sit down, get ravaged by it unceasingly for fifteen minutes, then put the needle back to the start.  Lethargy isn’t going to cheat you out of hearing the whole thing in one sitting by preventing you from getting up to flip it or anything. Imagine having to change seats halfway through a rollercoaster. Pointless. Like most precipitous barrel rolls into infinity, the impact of how Dog spirals and accelerates can only really be appreciated in one, rooted, uninterrupted sitting. I mean, you don’t sit through Blood on the Tracks or whatever your recourse is in times of blunder is– you squirm. Dog lights a match to your brain and relishes the sizzle while you sit back prone. Even the artwork is perfectly executed; three black dogs swallow one another’s tails on one side, backed by an explosion of white light out of pitch dark on the flip. The liners are eerily riveting, all DIY typeface and illustrations rendered in grotesque, unsettling fashion; they open up like a prayer book (natch).

The way Negative Reinforcement frame the whole depression thing here is by emphasising the struggle with physical overwhelm, set against keeping up external appearances. All becomes decay, listlessness and torpor. “Order” is a monologue– “I wanted something for my head”- framing the sense of descent, the lack of control, the spiralling — without attaching anything as unsubtle as a riff or a violent jarring or whatever. When “Pit” comes to follow, it feels like a brick to the windpipe. This is important. From there, it’s all just unravelling and chaos. I can’t fuck or fight anymore exactly. This is brutal in the sense that a whole Jandek album or Ted Kennedy swimming away from a dead woman is brutal. It’s fact of life brutal. I don’t know, man. Safer than digging a fork into your leg. I don’t care. I hope it hasn’t sold out for your sake and I hope it has sold out for theirs. This also means that Coffin Cut Records are now probably the best thing about Maylands apart from that incredible Pray for Australia sign.