Originally available only in the U.K., Pitchshifter’s Un-UK EP has recently been released in North America on Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label (look for a Pitchshifter/Jello collaboration on Pitchshifter’s soon to be released Deviant). Here, Pitchshifter’s brand of noisy processed guitars-and-beats continues to take on political overtones that are more about anger than straight-up despair. On the updated punk sounds of “Un-United Kingdom,” the band’s furious drum loops and driving guitar riffs focus their rage against the demise of their homeland, and their praise of Guy Fawkes, a guy who tried to blow up the English parliament in 1605 (...who told you that listening to rock ‘n’ roll wouldn’t make you smart!).
“Everything Sucks (Again)” puts the band in the land of teen-angst, fuck-you catharsis with the kind of hook-heavy tune that you’re supposed to jump around your room listening to as loud as you can while Mom and Dad worry about you on the other side of the door. The band’s take on “Kerosene” reiterates the fact that these boys have a historical sensibility, although instead of reaching back to 1605, Pitchshifter gives a nod to proto-industrialists Big Black who first recorded the song for their important mid-‘80s release Atomizer. Simply put, “Kerosene” pushes the destructive force of boredom to an extreme end: “Kerosene around / Find something to do / Kerosene around / Set me on fire.” While this new version of “Kerosene” is not terrible by a long shot, it does seem restrained and overly respectful of the original. Listening to it makes you long for more of the menace of Steve Albini’s vocals and the ragged edges of the original. And rounding out Un-UK is a satisfyingly spacious rhythm-first mix of “Un-United Kingdom” that pushes punk into the land of techno with good results.