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Album Review

Starting off a debut album with a brutal, slow rock punch and the heavily echoed lyric "Some people deserve to die" might not sound like the easiest way to win friends and influence people. Given that two members were refugees from the collapse of Loop, though, it was par for the course for Hair & Skin Trading Company. Jo in Nine G Hell, if nothing else, shows that while Robert Hampson might have wanted to leave behind his old band's formulas, Mackay and Wills were interested in finding out what could still be done with them. Webb proved to be a sympathetic partner, if not one who could completely erase the memory of Hampson's noise freakouts, and perhaps as a result ,Jo in Nine G Hell is centered much more around the Mackay/Wills partnership. With production from Roli Mosimann emphasizing the brutal rampage factor of the two — much of the album sounds like the fierce Can team of Holger Czukay and Jaki Leibezeit out to stun — the results are a heavy-duty trip. Mackay and Webb are as much non-singers as Hampson, concentrating on mantra-like lyrics and short, harshly whispered or sung performances, letting the music speak first and foremost. "Ground Zero," the band's debut single, is the most immediately conventional track, a viciously catchy spaghetti western theme gone to a freaked-out hell, while the occasional song ("Monkies," "Pipeline") serves up some hooky crunch here and there. Otherwise, the emphasis is on exploration rather than singalongs, the songs coming across as evil-minded psych-stoner monsters out for blood and not caring what gets in the way. Points for credit as well for the flat-out nutty vocals to "Kak" that sound like merry dwarves down in a mine that is about to collapse.

Biography

Formed: 1991

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

Vocalist/bassist Neil Mackay and drummer John Wills left Loop in 1991 and joined guitarist Nigel Webb on the experimental noise-rock trio's debut album, Jo in Nine G Hell. Over Valence,...
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