The Melvins - Chicken Switch
Through their near three decade-long career The Melvins were never really renowned for following the rule book. In fact, if you ask them where the rule book is they would probably shrug their shoulders and point in the general direction of a smouldering pile of ashes.
Chicken Switch is their long-awaited re-mix album but, unsurprisingly, things are done slightly differently: instead of handing out tracks they’ve given each re-mixer an entire album to fiddle with and re-name into a single piece.
At first glance this might seem like a compressed discography for the information hungry generation; a chance to dip your toe into Lake Melvin with a snippet from their varied back catalogue. But this is not a good starting point for a new listener. Such is the breadth of material and aggression involved in the re-working it becomes new material with a life of its own.
On the 'EggNog Trilogy' Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo invokes terror by pulling in noises like a horror flick, where the fiend bursts into view for a few seconds and is then gone, like nothing happened. Japanese noise producer Merzbow has turned them into a machine, leaking oil and pumping noxious gasses into the air. Speedranch does what he does best: jamming a concrete block on the accelerator peddle, twisting the wheel into on-coming traffic and leaping onto the roof to conduct the carnage. Oddly, Famersmanual appear to have assembled their part in the toilets at Paddington Station. Sometimes the source material is obvious and easy to identify, other times it’s so heavily affected it could have been taken from field recordings in a slaughterhouse.
Your enjoyment of this album will rest solely upon a combined appreciation of The Melvins and the individual re-mixer. With all albums like this the quality is variable throughout and for some, the content may delve too close to racket. For others this will represent a creative re-imagination of The Melvins back catalogue.