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Big Black

Chicago’s noise autocrats Big Black were always a contrary outfit.

The three-piece of Steve Albini (guitar, vocals), Santiago Durango (guitarist) and Dave Riley (bass) split up after four years – following the release of their second album, Songs About Fucking (1987) – for fear of becoming a parody of themselves.

While Songs was their most accomplished record, their full-length debut, Atomizer (1986) was their fiercest and most uncompromising effort, defining their sound and stance (Killing Joke sheet-metal guitars, austere Roland drum beats, growled tales of small-town aggression).

The original vinyl album was augmented by impressionistic annotations detailing recording minutiae and the oft-chilling subject matter of each track.

The clattering Kerosene, for example, marries “easy sex and arson” born of small-town ennui, to sweaty “Led Zeppelin drumbeats,” while the war trauma that afflicts Bazooka Joe is mirrored by a rhythm track reinforced by “an M1 carbine being fired.”

“Ever been to a slaughterhouse?” ask the notes accompanying the closing live track, Cables. In fact, Atomizer is savage enough to save you the bother . . .

Steve Albini went on to production duties, producing Nirvana, PJ Harvey, The Auteurs and others.

Steve Albini
Guitar, vocals
Santiago Durango
Guitar
Dave Riley
Bass
Jeff Pezzati
Bass