PYLON – ” Chomp “

Posted: November 6, 2020 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , ,
chomp (2020 reissue)

Before they were a band, Pylon were art-school students at the University of Georgia: Just four kids invigorated by big ideas about art and creativity and society. Pylon was less a band, however, and more of an art project, which meant they had very specific goals in mind as well as an expiration date. while their time together as a band was short lived (1979-1983), Although just a few years as their time together Pylon had a lasting influence on the history of rock and roll. Throughout their brief history, they were able to create influential work that would help foster the post-punk and art-rock scene of the early 80s. influencing artists like R.E.M., Gang of Four, Sonic Youth, Sleater-Kinney, Interpol, Deerhunter and many more claim inspiration from the band. in 1980 the band released its first record, “Gyrate” and began touring across the country in support of the release. The band would soon develop a following across the country and specifically in the bustling music scene in New York City. One of their earliest gigs was opening for the Gang of Four in the big apple. Following the critical acclaim of their debut release, Pylon went back into the studio. while in the studio they gleefully pulled their songs apart and put them back together in new shapes, revealing a band of self-proclaimed non-musicians who had transformed gradually but noticeably into real musicians. The resulting album, “Chomp” was barely off the press when Pylon were booked to open a run of dates for a hot new Irish band called U2 (after previously playing two arena shows with them in the month leading to the album release). Most bands would have jumped at the opportunity, but Pylon were skeptical. at a critical point in the life of Pylon, they opted to become a cult band rather than stretch their defining philosophy too far. “We fully intended Pylon to be an almost seasonal thing that we were gonna do for a minute and then get on with our lives,” says Curtis Crowe, drummer for the band. “but it just never went away. it still doesn’t go away. there’s a new subterranean class of kids that are coming into this kind of music, and they’re just now discovering Pylon for the first time. that blows my mind. we didn’t see that coming.” New West Records is proud to partner with Pylon to reissue “Chomp” back into the masses. beautifully remastered from the original audio sources and pressed on vinyl for the first time in over 30 years.

Pylon’s 1980 debut album, sounded like the work of the best sort of enlightened amateurs, musicians who were still fairly new to what they were doing and making the most of their simplicity, which worked brilliantly in their favour. 1983’s Chomp was a somewhat different affair; Pylon were a more accomplished group with far more practical experience under their belts, and instead of the streamlined hands-off production of Bruce Baxter, the second album was produced by Chris Stamey and Gene Holder of the dB’s, and engineered by Mitch Easter. As a consequence, Chomp sounds fuller and less minimal than Gyrate, with Vanessa Briscoe Hay overdubbing vocal harmonies on some tracks, keyboards popping up here and there, and Randy Bewley adding some new flash to his James Brown-style chicken scratch guitar. However, if Pylon were capable of doing more on Chomp, they also knew what not to do. The textures are more complicated, but the music still feels efficient, with no wasted gestures in the songs or performances. The grooves are as potent as ever, with bassist Michael Lachowski and drummer Curtis Crowe anchoring this music with lean, funky rhythms that sound edgy while still filling the dance floor.

The added production polish and instrumental niceties add atmosphere without weighing down the songs, and reinforce how tuneful the material is despite their clean surfaces. “Crazy” is a beautifully ominous pop song that Pylon lacked the sophistication to pull off when they made Gyrate; if their early music was full of sharp angles, “Crazy” showed they could create something more accessible without compromising their vision in any way. Pylon would break up the same year Chomp was released, and it’s fascinating to speculate where their broader musical range and studio smarts would have taken them if they’d stayed together (they would periodically play reunion shows, and even cut a third album, Chain, in 1990.) However, if Chomp closed the book on Pylon’s first era, it was a grand finale, an album that stands apart from their debut yet is just as brilliant in its own ways.

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