The Sisters of Mercy: Adrenochrome
f it weren’t for the occasional live appearance, conspiratorial rumours about the Sisters’ current mortal status would be taking pride of place alongside ROYAL FAMILY ARE LIZARDMEN, ILLUMINATI CONTROL A JEWISH-ARABIAN NETWORK OF DEATH and TV’S FAMOUS ALAN TITCHMARSH REVEALED AS OCTOPUS taglines on your local basement-dweller’s web presence. Thanks to the thoroughly dubious overuse of dry ice, even various live shows haven’t necessarily put such talk to bed. Was that chap with the Top Gun shades really Andrew Eldritch? Was there even anyone there at all? Would you still be his wingman anytime? As requests for merchandise catalogues continue to pile unchecked behind a random letterbox in Leeds, it’s worth looking back with a cynically engineered sense of nostalgia to a bygone era when this shower of Sisters actually released records.
Ahh, remember that time when you assumed they were all women? Hmm ... just me then.
“Adrenochrome” falls between two milestones. It appears after shambolic first recording “The Damage Done” (brought to a wider audience by, who else, John Peel), featuring Eldritch not so much ‘on’ as ‘vaguely near’ drums. But it also pre-dates breakthrough semi-hit “Alice”. It’s not even the A-side; that would be “Body Electric”. So why speak of it at all?
Well, because I love the shocking amateurism.
That’s right—every single hilarious limitation makes me squeeze a little more blood from the stone of enjoyment. I can’t get enough of drum machines that have a snare sound like rice-filled tubes of Pringles being gently slapped with a spatula. And sure, it’s sometimes pleasing to hear guitars that were recorded in caves, but stick some cheap piece of gear through a two watt practise amp and you’ve got ... a miserably thin fuzz type sound. A *unique* miserably thin fuzz type sound! Would you like to hear a stupidly grandiose claim? Well I’ve got one for you anyway! The first thirty seconds or so of “Adrenochrome” are the absolute epitome of punk and lo-fi aesthetics, cruelly forced together into one terrible-sounding package of utter awesomeness.
Please, please. I don’t have time to listen to your disagreements, my ears are needed on urgent business. That Eldritch fellow is apparently trying to communicate something to the world at large via some pre-war broadcasting equipment. Drenching this crucial missive in reverb certainly helps matters, but he may as well be using semaphore really. Or possibly just posting the lyrics to all five people who originally bought the single. By carrier pigeon.
Did I mention that stuff just makes me love it more?
“Adrenochrome” is not a great record. Look, it’s not even an average record. Searching for quality here can only lead to tragic disappointment. What this is, is a shining beacon of hope to everyone who ever dared hope they could release a record. A record that people would actually buy. Go on, listen to “Adrenochrome”. Now listen to your shitty bedroom recordings. Woah, where did that great production come from? Somebody call the label, we have a hit!
You don’t, of course. Sorry.
“Adrenochrome” offers no guarantees of success.
By: Peter Parrish
Published on: 2004-11-10