4th And Back
CD - $12.00
Former Nomeansno guitarist Andy Kerr moves to Amsterdam, records some tracks, ships 'em to Shovelhed's Scott Henderson in Vancouver, who adds to them and ships 'em back again. An album is crafted via airmail and the squiggle-guitar is back!
"It remains to be seen how Andy Kerr's departure from Nomeansno will affect the Vancouver trio. But Hissanol, Kerr's new outfit- which pairs him with former Shovelhead-head Scott Henderson-checks in loud and strong. Primarily a manic attack of guitar and drum machine, 4th And Back bristles with additional sirens, buzzers, tapes played backwards and weird TV talk show samples-like something Elliot Sharp might record on his weekends. "Anamosh" and "Sweet "n sour" could almost be called singles, and "Forgetting To Bless" borders on spoken word, but Hissanol is primarily instrumental skronk. And 4th And Back is 18 slices of slightly jazzy, not fully coherent (but enjoyably paranoiac) bombast, a roller-coast through a fine new piece of machinery."
"This is a very weird and nifty release from two guys who plumb through quirky new-waveish tunes recorded on a combination of 4-track and reel to reel 8-track. Considering the band's use of slightly cheesy yet very cool synth parts, drum programs, mechanical bass lines, and a sort of robotic vocal delivery, you can see them worshipping Devo on a daily basis. The low-tech production actually adds a lot of character to these bizarre songs, which are further highlighted by goofy lyrics and some very funny spoken word samples. Yes, this CD is very cool, different and very DIY."
- Under the Volcano
"This debut release is one of the most welcome and unexpected things to pop through y letterbox since The Lizard started up. Remember the one from Nomeansno who never gave away his name? Variously credited as "Uhh...," "None of Your Fucking Business," "''", etc. - his name is in fact Andy Kerr, and Hissanol is his new thing. I am very glad that he has a new thing because I was led to believe that he'd left music for a new life in Amsterdam. Half-right. He's married with a newborn babe, and conducts his extremely strange collaboration with Scott Henderson, his pal of fifteen years, by post from his Dutch home. (This is kinda necessary, since Scott still lives in Victoria, Canada.)
I am also glad that in spirit Hissanol retain the perkiness of classic Nomeansno releases like 0+2=1, while stylistically foraging in the inaccessible climes of Andy and Scott's archival music collections (that run from "Mark Stewart to Cajun music to Patsy Cline to... John Cooper Clarke") - and unquestionably having fun in the process. Important, that last.
After passing a few tapes forth and back (ho ho) across the Atlantic (matching up their parts, recorded on incompatible tape machines, by a complicated method I don't pretend to understand), they were pleasantly surprised by the results. Then they did "Angra," which Andy accurately describes as "Miles Davis, 70s sounding." All farty and squealy, sloppy, laid back and groovin', its exuberance takes it out of pastiche, through Nomeansnomansland and out into the unknown. "This is really neat, " they said. "We really like this." And Hissanol became firm (but the very opposite of concrete).
Andy's explanation for parting company with Canada's finest export since Rush is perfectly reasonable: "We never used to know what Nomeansno sounded like and after (laughs) nine years or whatever, we kind of found out. It's a very difficult thing to get around: at a certain point you start to sound like yourself."
Sure. A track like 4th and Back's opener, "Anamosh," proves this. It's NOT a helter-skelter ride (helter-skelters being things that take you round and round in a predictable way), but a brief but blissfully terrifying trip on one of those fairground thingies that send you round and round, up and down, and end over end all at once: there's logic there, but it sure as hell don't seem like it when you're in. the bibbling bass, pin-sharp drum machine, and pinched guitar make even the most crazed NMN song seem rather sluggish and obvious. But Andy's stamp is unmistakable. Then there's "Time's Up" (industrial-strength fizz), "Say It Isn't So" (unsettled hypno-bass loop and guitar drift) and "Forgetting to Bless" (randomly dubbed classical fragments)... too many to do proper justice to here. Just buy the flippin' CD, won't you?
Andy still seems invigorated by the first teenage impact of punk, when he was just one of thousands "taking energy from punk rock and shooting off in all sorts of different directions." But it seems bizarre to him that today's youth have so much reverence for that time and so little self-belief. "People who are 18, 19 years old should be telling people like me to fuck off." Still, he concedes, the cultural climate does have a lot do to with it: "The Sex Pistols were not that different from the New York Dolls, not that different to a lot of other things; but the time, the place, plus the fact that Johnny Rotten was walking round n a T-shirt that said "I hate Pink Floyd," that really put it all together. It was new."
Old NMN fans won't need convincing. But even if (for medical reasons, say), you never had time for the jazziest, shooting-offiest punk band to walk the Earth, it's still inevitable there'll be something in Hissanol's lavish disarray of wonders you can clutch to your bosom. And that's a promise."
- The Lizard