July 12, 2006

Review: The Gersch | The Gersch

The Gersch -- The GerschWe were going to put off writing about forgotten Boston juggernauts The Gersch until next month or so because our schedule has gotten pretty hairy and The Gersch's stuff isn't technically new. It's newly released, certainly, but what this self-titled disc (issued June 20 on Tortuga) documents is a largely unheard side-project of Isis and Red Sparowes multi-instrumentalist Clifford Meyer, recorded in the mid- and late '90s. So long ago that some dude at the Boston Phoenix has a copy of the disc in one of those CD cases used to play a disc in an automated radio station rack (someone must have thought they were going to be the future at one point). Read the funny Phoenix write-up for the disc here, and grab the MP3 for "Face" if the link is still live. Anyway, then Syd Barrett's death was announced, and while the actual connection between Barrett and The Gersch is almost beyond tenuous, we couldn't push the record back far enough in our head to focus on the other very good records we've received in recent weeks. So we're writing this one to get it out of our head.

Here's the tenuous Floyd connection. The press materials for The Gersch record compared the act to Black Sabbath and legendary New York hardcore act Burn and loudly talked up the genius of The Gersch's cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio," one of two hidden tracks on the collection. But we were far more psyched to hear the band's rollicking version of the coda of Pink Floyd's "Dogs," from the amazing, guitar-heavy 1977 prog masterpiece Animals (a necessary aside: Animals-era Floyd has little to do with Barrett, admittedly, and in fact the record signals once and for all that bassist Roger Waters has taken control of the songwriting for the combo). Unlike Floyd, The Gersch packed three guitars and clearly was not afraid to use them in proliferating their own brand of sludgy, crushing doom. You'll feel the Sabbath vibe right from the outset, as the high wailing vocals and drone of opener "Listwish" collapses into a pounding chorus that readily (perhaps too readily) recalls Ozzy and crew's "Paranoid." The mayhem continues through the screamy, mid-tempo basher "Magnificent Desolation" and beyond. The set has substantial grit due to some of its lo-fi beginnings (many of the drum tracks sound like they were recorded in practice spaces or something), but the results are just more rough edges that enhance the aggression of the music. If you are a fan of proto-metal or of '90s stoner sludge, this set will loudly speak to you. Links below snatch MP3s from the band's MySpace. The two tracks, incidentally, were on the first single ever released by Tortuga in 1997. More history here.

The Gersch -- "Listwish" -- The Gersch
The Gersch -- "Bloodbottom" -- The Gersch

Got Rhapsody? Of course you do -- it gives you 25 free streams a month. Hit this link and stream the original Floyd version of "Dogs."

[buy The Gersch at Insound here]

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