Imagine this. James Brown, Mick Jagger, Little Richard, Prince, Jimmy Swaggart and Sly Stone all happen to be in the same bar. In the same town. At the SAME TIME. After ditching the formalities they end up swapping notes and vowing to incorporate all the best bits of each other’s being. Out on the street, Ian Svenonious is the result.
Manifesto devotee, agitator of the mind, Gospel yeah-yeah preacher, he informs of esoterica and warns of the ever watchful All-Seeing Eye, the power of symbolism, it’s omniscience, but, but, peer behind the veil, you might not like it, but, you’ll never look back.
‘Deathbed Confession’ from debut LP‘ Down with Liberty … Up with Chains’ could be inspired by the nefarious activities of E. Howard Hunt (CIA/FBI fixer, Watergate plumber, all-round bad egg) and has James Ellroy’s fingerprints all over it; a vivid account of the desire for redemption on your deathbed, the sudden need to confess for your crimes in the hope that you won’t be next on Ol’ Nick’s payroll. Too late, the real underworld awaits.
I killed MLK, for the CIA
and Malcolm X, for Federal Express …
… and yeah, and all the rest
Svenonius, architect behind The Nation Of Ulysses (and The Make-Up (‘Sound Verite’, ‘In Mass Mind’), online chat show host (‘Soft Focus’) and author of two books, ‘The Psychic Soviet’, a dissection and dismantling of imposed and indoctrinated cultural institutions such as why the Beatles and Stones won’t go away and how even the non-royal dynastic, bloodline elite pollute our lives with their dead-eyed scions and their hassle-free paths to the summit, e.g. Delevignes, the Beckham Borgs. His follow up ‘Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group’ uses the premise of a séance to contact the (un)dead stars, mainline the past ‘to create your own successful band, with chapters on drugs, making love, play guitar even drive a car’ all in the manner of your hero(es).
Chain and the Gang are purveyors of CRIME ROCK that adapts, adopts, channels and updates what you THINK is rock ‘n’ roll, blues, funk, gospel music and vocal quartets from the late-50s and early- 60s.
Fourth album ‘MINIMUM ROCK N ROLL’ declares ‘The album does not contain the following …’ and then reels off a litany of crimes (e.g. ‘spare beats, extraneous words, unnecessary sounds’), these are crimes against sensibility, intelligence and intellect, it’s time you realised you are targeted as a consumer via stealth like modes, the unconscious is perpetually at war, be alert. Dressed to thrill, they urge you to question your will.
‘Reparations’ is a scabrous indictment on Uncle Sham, Land of the Fee, Home of the Slave ‘the people who made this country they weren’t given one red cent, the people who built this country ended up scavenging, living in tents.’ ‘Devitalize’ is sparse, a throbbing bass sets the pace with a message of whatever ‘THEY’ say activate and engage with the opposite.
‘Certain Kinds of Trash’ runs through a list of those items of discard ‘pieces of magnetic tape caught in a tree’ ‘floppy discs’ it is a lament to an olde worlde yet a critique on the disposable existence we occupy; the piano riff intermittently tapping, prodding, reminding and provoking.
‘I’m a choice (not a child)’ sees the tender side of the group, a tender ballad with a Wall of Sound drum beat. Is it a plea to an inamorata or the realisation that freedom is a choice, your CHOICE? ‘Interview with the Chain Gang’ is a call and response addressing the state of rock ‘n’’ roll in its current state and how ignorance of politics can backfire (like Ralph Nader’s warning, ‘If you’re not turned onto politics, politics will turn on you’).
Playing with conventions, subverting notions of standard and messing with collective and individual memories they are enthralling, exciting, engaging and essential. After 90 minutes they exit. As the band would espouse ‘It’s just EXACTLY ENOUGH’
Less is more and you need it. Imagine that.