(11.2008, Night People/Not Not Fun)
Verdict = Earning their oo’s with an expansive swan song
2008 has been miraculous as any year of music in regards to exciting new tunes from fresh new faces and inventive musical genius from old torch bearers alike. However, despite all the standard pomp, there has been some casualties along the way that have been particularly devastating for me. As I mentioned in my review of Millipede’s Hyrule, experimental stalwarts, Yellow Swans and Wzt Hearts, both announced their respective dissolutions this year (though Yellow Swans have promised their last word in a release for 2009). No band can continue forever, and personally I wouldn’t want them to, but it is still sad to hear of bands bowing out in the midst of such wonderful output. Unfortunately, Raccoo-oo-oon, the eponymous noise rock troupe has added themselves to the list of glorious bands who went their separate ways in 2008. Wooly Mammal alerted me to this first in a somewhat bittersweet announcement of Raccoo-oo-oon’s most recent and final release. It is hard to reconcile the great excitement of a new full length Raccoo-oo-oon album with the fact that it will also be the last that we’ll ever hear. It has been a relatively brief, though richly fertile run for the band and the idea of this being their swan song brings with it some hefty baggage. The album contains seven untitled tracks, the first of which threatens, quite literally, to devour the whole of music released in 2008. After meandering unassumingly for about three or so minutes, the band locks into a primordial groove reminiscent of A Silver Mount Zion when they’re bearing their teeth, granted, Raccoo-oo-oon carry a few extra rows of teeth. It’s just ferocious. However, in the midst of their powerful fit of rage, the band members seem to become confused and disoriented on subsequent tracks like wild animals in the grips of some mortal wound. With gaping bloody holes Raccoo-oo-oon spends the remaining hour+ passing in and out of consciousness, staggering and hallucinating, amassing grizzly strength only to suffer its gory depletion in a harrowing scene of wide eyed grief and frenzied rage. It’s simultaneously exciting and bewildering. The band hasn’t pulled any punches here. Every raw ounce of energy has been summoned and funneled into these tracks and, for better or worse, they have filled every last second available on the disc. It is a hard album to eff with. You really have to know what you are getting into when you get started or you’ll probably get injured - mentally and physically. It is simply unpredictable. One moment the band is locked into a furious jam that seems fit to tear down the wall of China by sheer audio fervor alone and the next minute the group has wandered, each in opposite directions creating some incomprehensible instrumental jargon. At first I was elated, I mean that first track is just about the best thing the band has ever done, but then I was disappointed by the magnified disorder that directly followed it. My feelings continued to fluctuate after through that first listen, however, with a patient and open ear, and several repeat listens, I believe that Raccoo-oo-oon has done something brave here. The album is the emotive embodiment of the celebration and sorrow of a band in the twilight of its life. Without the desire to please not a soul but themselves, Raccoo-oo-oon has thrown themselves and all the blood and sweat that they contain into a glorious requiem fit for the microcosm of noise rock of which they were deities. I would offer a “rest in peace,” but I hope that the ghost of Raccoo-oo-oon continues to haunt the souls of men for a long long time.