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15 February 2012

Dead C - 'Eusa Kills/Helen Said This' (Ba Da Bing)

I love this, and thanks to Ba Da Bing again, it looks and sounds great. The cover is the most beautiful blur, just like the songs: a building, swirling morass of dissonant guitars both cloudy and clangy. And the mastering job on this, certainly a front-runner for "best Dead C album", is sterling. Drop the stylus on 'Scarey Nest' and listen to how the screaming voices ring out of the platter, and then compare to the flat-sounding CD edition. (Don't worry, we will soon). This is probably the most song-based Dead C record but it's as uncompromising as Tusk. It's actually fairly minimal - the production is top-notch studio recording, much more hi-fi than our various versions of 'Max Harris', and for this I am glad. I had this for so many years on CD so I never thought of it as two sides, but it's a classic rock album structure. 'Now I Fall' is the epic to bring Side 1 towards it's ringing conclusion, titled 'I Was Here' in response. The two songs fit together beyond their titles, thanks to the distorted Bigmuff vocalising and juxtaposition of rhythmic repetition with free-form swirls. And on the flip is 'Children', the destroyed cover of T.Rex's 'Children of the Revolution' (no credit given, of course). Often forgotten as one of the greatest cover versions, the Dead C are actually quite faithful through their destruction. 'Maggot' is the side 2 epic, a seemingly endless journey through glue-soaked guitars soaked in glue. The elegiac 'Envelopment' is a perfect closer - a strange moment of serenity. New Zealand may have never produced a finer album than Eusa Kills. But wait, there's more! Ba Da Bing has lovingly packaged Eusa Kills with the Helen Said This EP as a 45pm bonus 12", thus pairing what's probably the Dead C's finest full-length with their finest short-length. I remember reading about how 'Helen' was the Dead C's greatest song, which I finally found on the Trapdoor Fucking Exit CD, and though I don't think it compares to 'Power' or 'Hell is Now Love' or maybe even 'Scarey Nest', it's sure fucking great anyway. And like 'Scarey Nest' it has a drilling one-note guitar solo, though it's not so much a solo here as part of the general jamm/mess. We're back to slightly-better-than-Wakman fidelity and it's great, never stopping the tune from churning, lifting off, and eventually reaching it's tranquil extended coda. I remember seeing them live, finally, at the big crazy Thurston-curated ATP a few years back, and their freefrom Language Recordings-style sound slowly built into the hits. And when they played 'Helen' I felt like I had completed some full circle. (If I was hip to their sound in 1995, I coulda seen 'em in a small club in my hometown, but unfortunately I was still in diapers then, musically). 'Bury's on the flip and this is the tranquil, Stars of the Liddy beauty that these guys rarely attempt, but they do it so masterfully it makes you wonder what other stars were aligned in 1989 down there. This was originally released on Flying Nun, which is almost as mind-blowing as the music.

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