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4th and Back

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Album Review

Recording via long distance might not always be the easiest way to work, but Hissanol come up with enjoyable results with the duo's debut effort, 4th & Back The abbreviated s**z-punk-pop of NoMeansno gets a perfectly understandable parallel here, especially considering that the album consists of nearly 20 songs in just over 40 minutes. Scott Henderson's sometimes declamatory, sometimes flat but strong voice makes for a nice twist on the scream-and-shout approach, to be sure, not so much finding the melody (when there is one) but sliding around it. Clipped funk is as much a reference here as anything, maybe more from Gang of Four sources rather than James Brown, say, but Andy Kerr makes it work when he wants to. "Exterminal" is one of the best, Henderson's aggrieved semi-whine combining Mark E. Smith and John Lydon at their aggressive, wired best over a driving, relentless chug and grind which itself owes more than a little to the Fall. Where Hissanol shows some real smarts is in its occasional moments of calm. Consider the chorus break on "Swell Song," with overdubbed vocals creating a soothing bed amid the harder-hitting punch of the song, or "Say It Isn't So," which somehow sounds like early OMD in slow mode with a bit of country steel guitar and gets away with it. "Beauty" itself is just that, random samples from interviews and documentaries or what have you over an almost too sickly sweet layering of single tone feedback and keyboards, plus some static spiking the mix. A fair amount of tracks are engaging instrumentals, like the stop-start "Shortcut," with notable parts for vocal grunts and car alarm, and "Once Machines Ruled the World," a goony little number that would sound just fine soundtracking a modern Warner Bros. cartoon.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

Hissanol was the side project of former Nomeansno guitarist Andy Kerr and Shovelhed frontman Scott Henderson. Recording via mail — Kerr lived in the Netherlands, with Henderson in British Columbia — the duo sent tapes back and forth, slowly crafting songs on a track-by-track...
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4th and Back, Hissanol
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