Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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DNA

  • A Taste of DNA [American Clavé EP, 1981] A-
  • DNA on DNA [No More, 2004] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

A Taste of DNA [American Clavé EP, 1981]
Five "songs" lasting nine minutes in which Arto Lindsay, who refuses to corrupt his talent by learning chords, beats his guitar about the neck and body while yelping and ululating and just plain screaming the incomprehensible urban blues. Lester Bangs calls it horrible noise, I call it skronk and say it's funny as hell and just as gut-wrenching--chaos neither celebrated nor succumbed to, just shaped into, well, postchaos. Ikue Mori's postceremonial drums and Tim Wright's post-Ubu bass complete the picture. A-

DNA on DNA [No More, 2004]
Arto Lindsay, Ikue Mori, Robin Crutchfield, and/or Tim Wright recorded 12 songs lasting 23 minutes in four years of boho mayhem, and these songs justify a CD. As Byron Coley and Glenn O'Brien outdo themselves explaining, this was art-noise like no other, more anarchic yet more structured than anything else called no wave: dense little aural paint-bombs im/exploding painfully and sportively all over the world-music avant-garde (whatever that means, which with them was everything). But 23 minutes don't a major reissue make, and so Jason Gross has unearthed 20 more tracks in 40 more minutes. Some of those that feature Lindsay's strangled vocals, especially from the "Fiorucci tape" but also the live "Nearing" and "Brand New," are up to the standard of the official oeuvre. Others reduce to avant-vamps with bassist Wright in the lead, especially the program music--"Police Chase" is quite onomatopoeic--that accompanied a Squat Theatre play. As Wright replaced Crutchfield, Lindsay's groovier tendencies began to surface, the way God intended. But closet prog Crutchfield kept the focus on form. You'll know what that form is when you hear it. If you find you don't, listen again. A-