Music

Moss Icon: Complete Discography

Complete Discography is a stellar encapsulation of a seminal signpost in the post-rock landscape of today.


Moss Icon

Complete Discography

Label: Temporary Residence
US Release Date: 2012-05-08
UK Release Date: 2012-05-14
Amazon
iTunes

To quote the bard Brian Posehn: Words are funny. Take the rock subculture commonly known as emo, or Emo, if you want to get your high-waters all in a bunch about it. Ultimately, the demarcation is an important one: those that would capitalize the word or claim to be modern practitioners were almost to a one not in attendance at the onset of the genre, a fact offset in striking contrast by those who were and prefer the term not be used at all to describe their work. Simple, huh?

Semantics aside, the musical ripples put forth by DC punk bands like Embrace and Rites of Spring that fostered the Revolution Summer of 1985 and by extension begat Emo had effects beyond the District city limits. Notable groundbreaking bands like Baltimore, MD stalwarts Lungfish come to mind. Similarly cut from that same thrift store cloth was Annapolis quintet Moss Icon. The foursome saw fit to mix the spacious dynamism of Slint with the jagged angularity of Rites of Spring, ultimately laying significant brick and mortar to the foundation for what became known as emo.

Like their DC predecessors, Moss Icon burned bright and faded as quickly. The quintet formed when the band members were only in their early teens, releasing only a demo and two seven-inch releases in the varying periods of activity between their inception in late 1986 and 1991 dissolution. The scant eleven tracks that comprise their canon as an active band comprise a virtual road map for the angular indie rock evolution of same that exploded in the Midwest a mere five years later. A third seven-inch entitled Memorial was released posthumously in 1991, as were tracks recorded for a split LP with Bay Area band Silver Bearing. Vermiform Records released the full-length Lyburnum Wits End Liberation Fly in 1994, featuring tracks recorded in 1988. The same year also saw Ebullition paying tribute by releasing It Disappears, compiling the last seven-inch and live tracks.

Guitarist Tonie Joy maintained the highest profile post-Moss Icon, tenuring in Universal Order of Armageddon, Born Against and current project the Convocation (nee the Convocation Of … ), a position that has made him the focal contact point for every Tom, Dick and/or Harriet that hoped to get Moss Icon to play a reunion set. Only two sets had transpired in the years following their break-up and most requests were met with offers of whatever project Joy had active currently. Singer Jonathan Vance released a solo record in 2005, but was rumored to have given up all things rocking in favor of a writing existence. A live set in Austin at this year’s Chaos In Tejas marked the return to the stage for Moss Icon, ostensibly with the original line-up save for the exchanging of drummer Mark Laurance for late period Icon adjunct Zak Fusciello. Live footage of the set displays a conspicuously male bass player (perhaps erstwhile second MI guitarist Alex Badertscher), making the role of original bassist Monica DiGialleonardo ambiguous at present, but the hour long set showed a band firing on most, if not all cylinders for the duration. A collection of Vance poetic musings and drawings called Tulip Has a Room was released early this year and appears to be the primary focus for Vance artistic endeavors currently, but the recent compilation of their discography by the good folk of Temporary Residence has made future live shows a reality, at least for the immediate future.

Complete Discography is as described, capturing the Moss Icon catalog in its entirety, albeit in curiously reversed order, opening with the Lyburnum record in its entirety and appending the early seven-inch material on the second disc. While Lyburnum definitely captured Moss Icon at the peak of their formidable powers, listening to their canon in chronological order is the most eye-opening way to understand their catalog. The distance, both chronological and compositional, between the short sharp shock of their first recorded output via “Hate In Me” and the eleven and a half minutes of “Lyburnum Wits End (Liveration Fly)” shows Moss Icon as a band always willing to push the musical envelope. The rarely sung, more often spoken or ranted vocals will be the polarizing factor for most newcomers. When they meld seamlessly on tracks like “As Afterward the Words Still Ring” and the archetypical Moss Icon track “I’m Back Sleeping, Or Fucking, Or Something” it can approach the sublime. The other side of the coin becomes conspicuous on the somewhat dated Reagan-isms of “Guatemala” or the twee alt-isms of “Moth”, but for the most part Complete Discography is a stellar encapsulation of a seminal signpost in the post-rock landscape of today.

7

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image