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FEEDTIME (Buy CDs by this artist)
Feedtime (Aus. Aberrant) 1985
Cooper-S (Aberrant/Rough Trade) 1988
Shovel (Aberrant/Rough Trade) 1988
Suction (Aberrant/Rough Trade) 1989

Descended from pre-hardcore punk and electric blues, this Australian trio offers a fast and loud journey down Tylenol territory, playing it dark, dank, dense and devastatingly simple. "Ha Ha," the first track on Feedtime, pulses with deepness, guitar sawing in repetitive circles like the mating call of a didgeridoo, with vocals that are pure low-frequency growl. The grumbled "I've got a Pontiac/gasoline/Pontiac/gasoline" of "Fastbuck" evokes images of Big Black's "Kerosene" with high-intensity drumming and hard, repeating chords. (The guitarist often plays with a bottleneck, which sounds pretty amazing when cranked up to eleven.) An urge to experiment and fuse mismatched genres with each other leads to a stylistic square dance, as blues pairs off with punk and metal meets mantra. Everything is shaken down until it pounds. Even an air of shimmery progressive folk crops up in the vocals of "All Down." Listening to Feedtime is like sandblasting your ear canals, but it's worth the agony.

If your tweeters blew out last week, no problem. You won't miss them at all until you get to Shovel, where the same pounding sense of repetition slams guitar chords at your face but adds a touch of country warp and twang on the title cut and a crisp upfront drumbeat to the band's repertoire. Like Pere Ubu or Suicide or any number of bands that people didn't know how to appreciate in their time, Feedtime are original, making music that is totally compiled from familiar bits but given enough of a twist to make it the band's own.

Cooper-S applies Feedtime's noisy shredder to cover versions, blessing the Rolling Stones ("Street Fighting Man," "Play with Fire" and two more), Animals ("We've Gotta Get Out of This Place"), Beach Boys ("Fun Fun Fun"), Ramones ("Loudmouth"), Slade ("Hear Me Calling") and others with its tuneless spirited roar, feedback slide experiments and an occasionally untuned bass. Without casting aspersions on Feedtime, it's safe to assume that none of the songs' authors would be able to recognize their handiwork in these rumbling renditions.

Feedtime bid farewell to the world with Suction, an all-original swansong that (for more than half the record) runs tidy, occasionally tuneful songs through the usual floor-scraping guitar noise, adding such previously tested accents as harmonica, horns, acoustic guitar and femme vox. (The barking canines on "Drag Your Dog," however, are new.) While the merits of balancing oppression and allure depends on your perspective towards ear abuse, there's no questioning Feedtime's purposeful expression. (The US Suction CD also contains the Feedtime LP.)

[Andrea 'Enthal/Ira Robbins]