--Joe Carducci, Rock and the Pop Narcotic
1. Disaster Amnesiac has been enjoying the first recorded example of the rebooted Black Flag, Down in the Dirt, for a few days now. The band sounds solid, and the song is fine. Take for example the primary riff. It's a fine new exposition of Ginn's Black Flag approach to guitar riffing: circular, repetitive, almost double-timed, made up of a chord that is pretty far from rudimentary. That he makes it sound so simple is just one of his melodic gifts. Of course, his natural gifts have been honed with hard work and dedication. It's probably not so easy to play like Ginn on the guitar. The way he makes it shriek during the turnaround/chorus "yeah I'm DOWN!" hearkens back to the late-mid period of Flag tunes, the ones that were forged in the emotional crucible of the Unicorn/MCA debacle and ended up on Loose Nut. Ginn has done all kinds of playing since that time, but his signature Black Flag approach remains strong, one dripping with nervous energy, spiked by the tension of effort. It's great that he's brought the theremin along from the Royal We; Greg seems to be relishing its noisy potential. Greg's alter ego on bass, Dale Nixon, has grown a lot. All of that touring in which he played bass with the Taylor Texas Corrugators has clearly paid off. Ron Reyes sounds strong and emphatic, much like he did on earlier Black Flag recordings. It's great to hear him back in action. His lengthy hiatus seems not to have done much damage (no pun intended). Gregory Moore's drumming is groovy and downright locked. As far as previous Black Flag drummers, he reminds Disaster Amnesiac of Anthony Martinez, with his solid, un-fussy backbeats. His cymbal beats and snare rolls are great. Some right foot on that guy, too. Oomph! The recorded sound is characteristic of recent SST offerings, in that it's clean and compressed. All of the elements are mixed nicely, and no one gets short shrift.
2. Surely as have many others, Disaster Amnesiac has been following the apparent spat between Ginn and his former band mates, as they take their vision of Flag out on the road. I'm not sure that the initial press release from Black Flag or the lyrics of Dirt (which often strike me as aimed more at Rollins) were the best move (maybe better to just do their thing without comment?), but, that said, the Official Spokespeople of Hardcore have been dissing Greg in print for years now. I have only ever seen him brush off comments and try to focus on musical matters, but maybe he's just grown tired of taking so much crap and has finally chosen to fight back a bit. The monies owed issue is tantamount here, but, I really don't think that the entire story is being told. I also don't think that this issue will ever be solved or even addressed. So, the two sides will probably duke it out. It looks to me like Flag will make more money out on the road, seeing as that its members are so much less reviled than Ginn in the underground, but Greg will also get some serious bumps in Black Flag album sales. I guess it's a win-win, there.
3. It also strikes Disaster Amnesiac that Greg Ginn has become a lot like Jerry Garcia or Albert Ayler, in that he's a musician that people either really love or really can't stand. People know them when they hear them, and respond according to their tastes. None of them are bland, and, as such, can't ever please everybody. Greg is in fine company, here. He has always followed his vision, and often angered those who like their music played within extremely narrow aesthetic parameters. His liberty from them, and disregard for them and their opinions, only angers those whose musical perceptions (at minimum) are shackled.
Is Disaster Amnesiac looking forward to hearing the other 21 tracks that I've read about as having been prepared for Black Flag's 2013 release? Darn tootin' I am.