In 1977, the post-punk music scene was jolted to life with the inception of one of the most innovative albums of the time, Suicide’s self-titled first release. Suicide was not the archetypal post-punk group. Their inclusion of ambience, minimalist spasms and near psychopathic attitude changed the structure of music for years to come. In recent history, bands such as Black Dice, Lightning Bolt and Michigan’s own Wolf Eyes have continued the evolution of the rapidly growing noise-punk scene. These three have endured criticism, mockery and anonymity; however, with the current expansion of the genre, more bands are becoming key players and moving to the foreground of the genre.
Unfortunately, Lightning Bolt labelmates, Sightings, fail to produce on their latest release, Arrived In Gold. The album is seemingly devoid of the ingenuity, vigor and integrity of other records in the genre. Sightings appear unable to decide what direction to ultimately take Arrived In Gold. Their attempt to integrate songwriting into the spastic nature of their music comes off more as an identity crisis than something original.
In an envelope-pushing genre like noise-punk, one of the selling points is cohesion through anarchy. In most substyles of music, this concept would seem absurd; however, the main problem with the majority of these tracks is the presence of structure. Not only does Sightings fall short of this ideal, but the jangly, harsh guitars, combined with the cryptic vocals, create nothing more than confused guitar-rock.
Another problem is the singing and its presentation. Noise-punk vocals often assert themselves into the foreground of the song. The screeches and moans are an integral part of each song’s atmosphere. On Arrived In Gold, the incomprehensible screams just clutter the tracks. Sightings once again fall short; often, the lyrics seem forced and out of place.
Although Sightings generally miss the mark, they show promise on the stellar track “One Out of Ten.” The pitter-patter of fingers tapping on a microphone precedes sparse, shrill feedback and muffled croons. The song crescendos and recedes several times, creating tension rarely to be repeated on the record. “The Last Seed,” the only other standout track, creates the same ambience. Harsh electronic noises and jumpy, sparse bass line give the song the minimalist essence indicative of the genre’s ringers. The album would be greatly improved if Sightings were able to reproduce even an iota of these tracks’ nature.
Noise-punk is by no means an unoriginal genre, nor does it lack musical quality. However, Arrived In Gold is not a testament to the power and ability of Sightings’ colleagues. While the album has its bright spots, Arrived In Gold would be an unfortunate introduction to such an innovative and interesting genre.
Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars.