Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cop Shoot Cop - Ask Questions Later (1993)

Hailing from New York City, Cop Shoot Cop formed in 1987 and parted ways in 1996. They never achieved commercial success, but did make a few videos and receive at least a little MTV airplay - which was how I discovered them - hearing the awesome "Room 429" on MTV. It was one of those songs that haunted me, I recorded it when it was on, and played it over and over. From then on I would keep an eye out for CSC cds in record stores, without success. Until, finally, I discovered this one in the sale bins in Real Groovy. Sadly, most of the other tracks proved to be a disappointment on first listen - so I listened to it once then filed it away into my collection, to be pulled out and reviewed today.

Unlike most of the bands I listen to, CSC are not guitar heavy. They do not even have a lead guitarist and use a mix of sludgy, grungy sounding instruments, sampling, drums and bass.

It is a cardboard digipack, which means that the labels applied by RG have damaged the cover, tearing off the top layer. It was probably only $5 anyway. Inside it does have a plastic case and the booklet is slotted into the side in the manner that is difficult to remove. The cover features a boy with a gun (I think) printed in red, over what looks like printed duct tape. This duct tape print continues on the inside of the cover and also over the cd booklet which contains the lyrics.

The album opens with the uninspiring "Surprise, Surprise". Industrial noise. Heavy bass. Slow, driving like a sledgehammer. Vocals bold and a little echoey. Shouted, not sung. Aggressive, raw and pretty blah.

This is followed by "Room 429" which is ominous and, although still having the echo qualities, Tod A can in fact sing. He has a low, raw voice which sounds like he's being gargling firewater and chewing sandpaper. I suppose the term gravely would apply, although he manages an almost melodic stretch.

"Nowhere" has a sludgy garage sound. Heavy, clangy drums. Industrial noise. Vocals rising and falling. Low and deep. Like heavy barrels being rolled around a junkyard. Raw and raucous.

The short instrumental "Migration" featured in a Nike advertisement. It has an interesting almost "Ride of the Valkyries" feel, except played through distorted machinery.

With an odd vibrating sound, "Cut to the Chase" contains a mix of classical structures, most of which are played using distortion and bass (low and high) with the addition of violins. It is haunting, looming. The violin is being played in quick little flickering motions, rapid and fluttering like the wings of moths.

Whistling and banging shepherd us in to "$10 Bill". It has a steady tempo, like stomping boots of a marching army, shouted vocals with the hint of a tune. There's trumpets too.

"Seattle" has a grungy, distorted feel to it. All samples and noise gates.  I know what Gates are now thanks to Lions Share.

That steady beating-barrels beat ushers us into the "Furnace". Vocals high, echoe-y and distorted.  I swear someone is shaking a sawblade. Maybe that's what "metal" means under the instrument list.

There's a whiny, exotic quality to "Israeli Dig". Also an instrumental.

Rockier rhythms for "Cause and Effect". More low and high end bass. This is a very bassy album, a sharp contrast to the trebly Polish Thrash bands I was listening to this morning.

Ha-urm, ha-urm. Vocals dominate "Got No Soul" along with an industrial clunking. Kinda reminds me of Nick Cave, accompanied by a machine and strange vibrating, shrill insects. Also maracas, trombones, sax and trumpet.
"Late for work again today. Somebody's lying down on the job again. Will you people please stop jumping under my train?"
Oh my goodness, Tod A can actually sing! "Everybody Loves you (when you're dead)" has an upbeat tempo, despite the negativity of the lyrics. There's even piano in this one, admittedly mostly down the low end. And a lot of random clanging noises. Bit of shouting.

"All the Clocks are Broken" has an industrial goth feel to it. Everything is toned down very low, very bassy. Eerie background noises. Shrill. Ominous. Vocals droning but powerful. Like a voice of nature.
"A broken smile never lies. A busted mirror cannot see you cry."

This album has really grown on me. The arrangements seem to be pretty good and the use of mechanical noise, noise gates and distortion gives it a gritty edge. I'd almost say steampunk, but it's a bit too modern and gritty for that. Initially (when I started listening to it) I was going to give it 5/10. then 6/10 and finally I'm going to settle on 7/10. Repeated listenings work for this one!

1 comment:

  1. Cop Shoot Cop are a special band for me. Heavy metal (and often the quite twisted and macabre kind - hello 'Pungent Stench', 'Carcass' and hell, even 'Cannibal Corpse' fleetingly) was basically my entire musical landscape until I nabbed a copy of 'Release' (second-hand, about $5.00 from Galaxy Records). It had the dissonance and abrasiveness I had dug but channeled it in a very different direction - lots of musical experimentation; elements of jazz, noise rock, industrial, blues, even grimy funk rhythms etc. It was 'Release' that later led me to artists like Nick Cave and Tom Waits (whose influence can be heard on CSC). Heck, a lot of what I'm drawn to now filters on from that disc.

    I always thought Tod A's voice was wonderfully raw and bitter-sounding, fatalistic and cynical. Yet he manages moments that are startlingly poignant, haunting even.

    Great review.