Text: Sound Is Compressed; Words Rebel and Hiss
lanking. No words come to mind as disarming as Caitlin's three years ago, as we sliced through the mid-Texas countryside.
"Do you want to hear the happiest song ever now?"
Sure, fine. I love my friends. Slip it in. Her boyfriend at the time, the incomparable Jeremy, passed up the garish yellow CD. Big block letters. TEXT. I was somewhat hesitant to hear the disc for two reasons. First, I knew that Text was Refused minus the lead singer. I was not a Refused fan. Second, if Text was as dire as I was fearing, I'd have to fake a lot of enthusiasm, and if I'm driving, my lying skills are considerably sapped.
They'd been insisting that Text had written this amazing song that I would have to hear—I'll stop dragging it out. No hiding it—this is a Seconds piece, and "Sound Is Compressed; Words Rebel and Hiss" is better than anything Refused has ever done, different from anything Text themselves ever did, and one of those all-time no-prayer chart hits revisionists love to dream up.
It starts off well enough, with a forceful electric piano lilt, but from here the track could go off the rails at any number of points. It's the lone accessible cut on a CD filled with avant-muddle about ritual torture and inquisitions, and I imagine the temptation to spike it with death rattles was truly nagging. But instincts prevail! I was dumbfounded as actual crooning resounded from my Honda's stock speakers.
Seeeeeen you crying, slamming all the doo-ooorsAnd this is before the GOSPEL CHOIR comes in. Gospel choirs ought to be a barometer for an artist's desperation. If you've not soul, but you're a soldier, call up the community choral group for a Faustian shot of authenticity. Text, however, didn't seem to be so desperate. I couldn't believe the joyful noise being formed out of Euro-reggae and pseudo-spirituals, but when that first chorus of "Black is the light that shines on my path / Black is the color of freedom" rang out—kid, I can't tell you what I thought. I couldn't think. It was Glory Glory Hallelujah Time.
And I know you're trying, doin' it all like it's been
And I'm not denying the costumes that we wore
Know we're fighting, peeling it off until you hit the core
Text was still encoded for Refused's punk restlessness, and so once the radiant hockey-rink organ solo (eat yr well-traveled heart out, Kooper) and that final batch of choruses had passed, the song began to meander through nine extra minutes (!) of minor-key swamp-shuffle. But Caitlin and Jeremy were skilled mediators, and they switched the CD out right when they needed to. But in my mind, they repeated those first 3.5 minutes—some of the most purely-distilled happiness in song—all the way home.
By: Brad Shoup
Published on: 2005-08-03