Friday, April 5, 2019

It's Not Real Life: A Quick Review Of The Reissue Of Autoclave (pre-Helium, pre-Slant 6) From Dischord

Autoclave was the Dischord band that famously launched Mary Timony and Christina Billotte into the world. Timony would, of course, go on to record solo, and with Helium and Ex Hex, and now Hammered Hulls, while Billotte would go on to form Slant 6. As such, the band's lone self-titled release, reissued today on vinyl from Dischord Records, stands as an essential document of the post-Revolution Summer era, and an indication of the new directions the music on this label would explore in the Nineties.

Listening to this now, there's a real temptation to retroactively label this riot grrl given the era (1991-1992) this material originated from, but I think, stylistically, the tunes are more varied than that appellation would indicate. "I'll Take You Down" is spindly and spiky, while "It's Not Real Life" builds upon a slightly ominous riff to reach the sort of territory covered by bands like Live Skull in the Eighties. Some of what's here, namely "Dr. Seuss", revs up nicely, foreshadowing the path Billotte would pursue in Slant 6 after this, while the skewed "Still Here" sees Timony craft the kind of music she'd later refine further on a set of solo albums in the Nineties.

Autoclave, also featuring Nikki Chapman and Melissa Berkoff, occupied a unique space in terms of the history of this label, as their tunes were not quite the sort of post-rock that bands like Smart Went Crazy would offer up later, nor did their sound fit entirely easily next to that of compositions from pioneers like Fire Party. If anything, some of what's here on Autoclave, namely "Hot Spurr" and the edgier "Bull's Eye", owe as much to the music of post-punk bands like LiLiPUT and Ut as they do to any group from this city's harDCore past.

Autoclave is back in print today via Dischord.