Thing of the Day 

The return of Chicago’s Big’N - the legendary post-punk noise band of the 90s back in action…

April 14th 2011

BIG 'N were a cult legend back in the early/mid 90s when a great deal of the cutting edge post punk avant-edged noise challenge was pouring abrasively out of Chicago town. Big’N themselves had a wonderfully hardboiled churning sound, a big beast of a sound. Earlier this year, the excellent French label Africantape released a retrospective album collection of unreleased tracks/ hard to find things released on singles and such, then came enticing news of some mainland European dates from the band. And now the first recorded fruits of the rebirth are about to be released in the shape of a four track ten inch vinyl EP… But have they still got it?

   Are these new recordings any good - can they still cut it? I mean, so any bands reform when they really should just leave it alone...  The new EP is called SPARE THE HORSES and once again, Africantape are the good people feeding us the earfood via their label. The EP is officially released on May 2nd…

Big 'N

BIG’N – Spare The Horses (Africantape) – No holding back here, straight back in to the deepest end they could find with a delightfully titled track that goes by the menacing name of Assholes & Elbows - a brooding riff pushes open the space for an intense rhythm and some abrasive foaming at the bit, that classic Chicago artnoise and inch thick bass string brooding, no sparing the horses, they got some place they got to go. Vocalist William Akins pins it all down with a rasping, snarling growl that is deeply authentic and satisfying. Who knows what he’s screaming about, he’s doing it in classic 90’s noise style once more, they’re picked up where they left off, homage freaks back in the house, headcleaners, scissormen, they called it Chicago noise over there, it was the Camden Lurch over here, the abrasive stop start thing arched at us by those Red Eye Express pilots and suchlike. She’s got the smile of a killer, how do they know? Seaworthy is a real brooding piece of trademark churning... Four slices of abrasive goodness from Big’n,  a band back in style. It might just be that their time is now.

Here’s the Organ review of the album from a couple of months ago:

Big N coverALBUM: BIG‘N – Dying Breed (Africantape) – Back then, back when big abrasive noise was flowing out of Chicago (and over here things were lurching in Camden), back when Scissormen were slicing over here, Jesus Lizard over there, when violent skin burning abrasions were happening everywhere and noisestorms of alternative guitar bands were brewing up under every stone you turned, back then, in the early 90’s, there was a band called Big‘n.  Now, Big‘n were a relatively well kept secret to most, part of what can now be described, in a tongue in cheek kind of way, as pre-post rock - that big distorted noise-rock sound that boiled up in the alternative 90’s. Never as big as say Tar or Naked Raygun, Chicago’s Big’n took what you might say was an already proven formula and shoved it all right up there to the maximum. 
   They made some great records back in the 90’s; they kind of fell apart before the support systems of the internet and such really got there to carry the word out like it does for these kind of commercially unrealistic bands now – beautifully uncompromised noise bands that no seriously record company was ever going to bankroll. Those electric networks do carry the word now though, bands can’t actually completely die in these days of the internet, and it seems word of this scathing noise juggernaut that was (and is) Big’n has spread enough to warrant this collecting together of some singles, some unreleased tracks, things off compilations and such. That’s right, sixteen slices of now difficult to find Big’n abrasive knee-skinning goodness gathered together in one neat convenient place. 

   Actually, this all sounds very fresh and very now, not a million miles away from that new Poino album that came out a couple of weeks back, not a million miles to a lot of bands making their early moves now. This is serious bass-heavy discordant (yet well made) noise rock of the highest order, think Colossamite style big blackess, think bign band photonon-stop rumbling roll of riffs and throaty screams for vocals, think SkinGraft noise, think classic left-field Chicago noise rock that always make like some kind of optimist club. This is a collection of edgy recordings made between 1990 and ’95, jagged recordings, awkwardly shouty recordings, car-wreck-good and pecking at your head in the most passionate of ways. All the songs from the early seven inchers remastered from the original tapes along with some demo versions of album tracks and those two massive AC/DC covers that came out as part of the SkinGraft series of four way split seven inch tributes to Angus and company – how outrageously deranged is that filthy version of TNT! 

Most of the time Big’n deal out a low-end discordant rolling rumble of a sound, it is a familiar sound now, lots of bands do this, but they were one of the early wave and they still sound fresher than most. Excellent sixteen track compilation, if you know them already then you’ll be delighted to have these things thought lost all gathered neatly together. If you never heard of them then this is as well worth investigating now as Big’n were back then… Dirty deeds indeed, fine fine band that we almost forgot about, fine fine compilation that pulls it all together in an excellent way.        

DYING BREED is out in Europe on Africantape on February 7th 2011

Big'n 1996  photo by Kim Ambriz

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