COME – ” Don’t Ask Don’t Tell ” Expanded Edition

Posted: October 28, 2021 in MUSIC

In 1994 Come responded to the difficult-second-album stereotype with the hypnotic, intense and emotional masterpiece “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Featuring the original line-up of Thalia Zedek, Chris Brokaw, Sean O’ Brien and Arthur Johnson, the Boston band broadened their sound by slowing down the tempos and creating a dense urban stream of consciousness that mixes noise, city blues and… catharsis. The album hits you immediately as one of the greatest dissident records ever made.

Come’s 1992 debut album 11:11 was devastating to anyone who heard it. The sound this Boston four-piece created seemed beamed in from out of the blue and into the black. Singer and guitarist Thalia Zedek (ex of Live Skull), guitarist Chris Brokaw (then also in NYC slowcore pioneers Codeine) and the rhythm section of Sean O’Brien (ex-Kilkenny Cat) and Arthur Johnson (former Bar-B-Q Killer) created a transmission of traumatic beauty markedly unlike anything else at the time, a sound you craved more of, a sound you instantly got addicted to. So waiting for the next album was torturous. And when it came in the form of 1994’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell“, beyond it miraculously managing to surpass its predecessor, the album hits you immediately as one of the greatest dissident records ever made.

Lovingly remastered, this expanded edition includes “Wrong Sides“, (Loin of the Surf/SVK/Who Jumped in My Grave/Angelhead),an additional albums worth of b-sides and unreleased tracks, (Chris and Thalia’s original demo of “German Song” and our cover of X’s Adult Books).including the band’s very first single ‘Car’ and their last recorded song, ‘Cimarron’, featuring this core line-up. These gems showcase the rawness and incredible growth of a band completely in command of their song writing and at the same time paying homage to some of their punk roots with beautiful renditions of Swell Maps ‘Loin Of The Surf’ and X’s ‘Adult Books’. Also Includes new artwork with unearthed photos and fresh liner notes by the band.

Dissident from traditional rock this is a band playing music that thematically and structurally seems to pull from old Europa, from Eastern folk and modernist classical music as much as US and UK rock. Dissident from traditional ideas about singing and songwriting Thalia’s (ex of Live Skull) presence on songs like ‘Yr Reign’ and the astonishing closer ‘Arrive’ isn’t the pushy self-aggrandizement of a lead singer but the internal voice of the eternal migrant, someone who knows about survival, hiding, how living between multiple worlds can become its own refuge of distance, its own sanctuary of unbelonging

Dig the hell out of the way the drums are mixed. Instrumental and noise rock is often at its best when holding down a subdued groove building to a methodical and profound release. That’s why this track kills. That’s why it could easily be classed as post-rock, too. Tell me you don’t also hear echoes of Bark Psychosis and Godspeed! You Black Emperor.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” emerged from a period of cohesion, a break from the tight and hectic touring schedule Come had been plunged into after the acclaim accorded 11:11, and you can hear that increased focus in every moment the layers of guitars and feedback are even more precise, the structuring of songs takes on a new openness and ambition, and the whole narrative arc of the record from ‘Finish Line’ to ‘Arrive’ is more exquisitely realised and sequenced.

“The songs on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell . . . had a kind of magic we didn’t necessarily control ourselves.” Chris Brokaw – interview with Neil Kulkarni, 2013.

Released on limited edition Rough Trade Exclusive 2LP red vinyl, double black LP and 2CD.

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