Jimmy Smack - Death Is Certain
Essential archive work from Knekelhuis with this first time collection of the music of Jimmy Smack, an avant punk outsider loosely connected with the LA death rock scene of the 1980s and who was responsible for a handful of now impossible to find private press singles. As with a lot of this kind of outsider activity, Smack finds himself positioned provocatively between a few different worlds - performance art (check the Papa Shango corpse paint stylings of the Anguish video), no wave transgression, and punk nihilism - while not really exactly being any of those things. The aforementioned Anguish, the ten minute long shamanic opener, is a perfect case in point. Built around a swirling bagpipe drone and a drum machine pattern with Middle Eastern undertones, and driven by Smack's creepazoid incantations, it sounds very little like anything else you might associate with LA punk, and a whole lot more like an ungodly union of Ratfucker, Toneta and Omar Souleyman. Honestly, that's not a bad way of understanding this whole collection, which is determinedly sinister and unnerving, though quite clearly charged with a dark humour that's as fit to entertain as it is to challenge. Jimmy Smack is a born star in that sense, a gesamtkunstwerk-driven performer not so much preachin' the blues (ala his west coast compatriots) as the infinite black. Just as well, darkness is the best way to see stars shine...
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