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In the Marshes

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Album Review

Originally an extraordinarily packaged 10" in 1990 — part of a remarkable 10" vinyl series Independent Project Records' fine art genius Bruce Licher was doing — Marshes unsheathed six four-track demos from 1986, after the Lincoln, NE trio completed their 1987 debut, Echelons. These were far different than that LP or its follow-up, December's rapid proto-shoegaze. Marshes is far more esoteric post-punk — darker, cruder, harsher, repetitive, and discordant. Imagine rude snatches of Sleep No More Comsat Angels, Joy Division, early New Order, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and Second Layer, and you barely hypothesize the textural clash of harrowing sounds in the sinister "The Purgatory Salesman" or the ashen post-breakup bitterness of "Amnesia." These two and "Fate" reverberate into an impressionistic feverdream of cataclysmic, ominous art-rock. A drum machine may sideline Greg Hill, but it's the creepy, mechanical telltale heart of Poe, not a metronomic copout. Jeffrey Runnings' high-end basslines then scratch their nails in your hide with malignant diligence. And guitarist maestro Harry Dingman III is given his widest sonic palette, responding with so many shivering, stabbing, strobe-ish, delay-adjusted, circling lines, you get disoriented. Collectively, it's like being cornered by Dracula, a subconscious, blackened, criminal seduction. But like the early Comsats, it's so darkly fascinating, you yield your neck to the vampire. 2007's CD Marshes is even better, a 33-minute eight-song album with two alternate takes added — Hill's drumming reinstated — and a new Licher foldout digipack. It's actually more uniquely powerful now, longer removed from its bygone influences.


Formed: 1984 in Lincoln, NE

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Nebraska's lone dream pop entry, For Against initially consisted of bassist and vocalist Jeffrey Runnings, guitarist Harry Dingman, and drummer Greg Hill. Dingman and Hill left after 1988's December to form the Millions, and they were eventually replaced by Steven "Mave" Hinrichs and Paul Engelhard after another lineup failed to work out. (Dingman returned in the 2000s.) Since its inception, Runnings' band consistently produced a drifting yet distinctly rhythmic sound, soldiering through the myriad...
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In the Marshes, For Against
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