There was a time when Nation of Ulysses were about to take over the world. Ian F Svenonius had a message and a manifesto to spread. Unfortunately, the backdrop was to music and bands move on. Svenonious hasn’t really moved on cue, and has kept up his manifesto with his various incarnations since then including The Make-Up, Weird War and now Chain And the Gang. He is a character of the DC scene, outspoken and opinionated. It was hard at times to take the words of the manifesto for real when the important factor was its existence. His band was the army, and the listeners could be soliders. That is certainly the case now – we can be their soldiers funking off to war. Of course our war would not be with another country but with The Man… whoever that man may be.
And Devitalize kicks off the call to action. It’s a statement of intent – the soundtrack for our revolution. Musically it’s minimal, bass riffs funk along with some treble for the rebels. Of course we are left to fill in some blanks along the way, with instrumentals like the title track Minimum Rock And Roll and Fairy Dust. The drums provide the rhythmic drive for the lo-fi warrior. There are no expansive layered sounds here, just straight ahead in your face funk punk. Got To Have It Every Day is us the riff-and-sing-along-title track; all about the repetition of a beat that works. Likewise with Stuck In A Box we pop up every few seconds singing “Stuck In A Box” .
Of course, being Svenonious there are potential contradictions… none of us are perfect after all. And so, with I’m A Choice (Not A Child) we are left wondering exactly what point is being made. It is the sound of early Billy Bragg exclaiming some message before a drum kicks in, and then the songs ends, and we’re left wondering just what is it all about?
It is the aforementioned Devitalize and What Are You In Here For that makes me want to be a conscript. What Are You In Here For is bar jazz with treble, discussing prisoners and the jails profiting from their incarceration. This is very topical in Ireland with Margaretta Darcy being imprisoned for her moralistic stance against American warplanes travellng through our airspace. And yet those who lie and spread deceit still stay on the outside.
Throughout the 12 tracks we get Gil Scot Heron, James Brown playing garage rock being covered by a gang of punks. It is minimal, you can sing along, but deep down you want to be part of the gang.