Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review: Compiling Autumn: Making Discordance Axis' The Inalienable Dreamless

According to Andrew Childers, grindcore aficianado and master-mind of the acclaimed pack-leading blog Grind and Punishment, he was approached by the now defunct Discordance Axis vocalist Jon Chang to pen a short book about the creation of the band's classic benchmark album 'The Inalienable Dreamless'. Per Mr. Childers, Chang offered to financially back the project and the band supported it by contributing their points of view to the fevered sessions that would unforseeably redefine the grindcore genre years after it's initial release on Hydra Head records. Six months later, we have the novella 'Compiling Autumn: Making Discordance Axis' The Inalienable Dreamless'.
The bottom line here is that 36 published pages about this album is 36 published pages more than I thought I'd ever see in my lifetime. It was Boner City in Grindville when Decibel Magazine did a 6 page spread on the album as it's 'Hall Of Fame' entry for the March 2009 Grindcore Issue (a special issue that I'm pushing should happen every time Napalm Death releases a studio album, am I the only one sick of hearing about how great Mastodon and Skeletonwitch are?). So this thing could have been written by Sloth and Chunk and I'd still shell out the measly $8 that they were actually apologizing for charging for it. And the cherry on top of the whole thing is that 100% of the book's profits are going to the Tsunami Relief Fund for Japan. Now just take a moment to think about that would you please? Chang could've used the cash to fund his current blur-grind hybrid outfit Gridlink, or even bought a fishing net full of sci-fi Anime and underground Hentai DVD's, but instead he opted to go the route of helping support relief for the country that he's proclaimed has inspired him through most of his creative career. Any fan would be a fool not to buy this book on that merit alone.
The book is expectedly well written and offers previously unheard insight into the creation of the landmark album, including interviews with first time producer Jon D'Uva and co-owner of Hydra Head Records Aaron Turner, not to mention band members Dave Witte, Jon Chang, and Rob Marton as well as testimonials from peers in the genre. Everything from the writing process, lyrical and thematic inspiration, recording techniques, and even a bit of the origin of DA are all covered in this satisfyingly short, written documentary.
There are moments throughout the book that touch on how the band's first album, 'Ulterior', came to be - inspired by what Chang imagined the album after Napalm Death's 'From Enslavement To Obliteration' should have sounded like. When the author occasionally dips into the early years of the band I kept expecting to hear about the influence that Anal Cunt had on the group's sound (as was touched upon in the aforementioned Decibel article). It was at these moments where I had to remind myself that I wasn't reading a biography on the group and how they came to be, but a book more on the pinnacle of their all-too-short career and eventually how they came to be no longer.
Upon hearing about the book and it's release I pathetically retrograted into the 16 year old fan boy that I used to be about bands and music nobody else really thought mattered. The fact that Chang came up with the idea to do this and funded it himself shows an artist's excitement in his own work that fans of that person and his creativity absolutely love to benefit from. Especially in a genre that is so limited in the merchandise they can offer, because it just ain't popular enough to really turn a profit (I've still got an empty space on the wall in my garage waiting for a Pig Destroyer poster to one day be produced). Kudos to the band and everyone that gave their input to make the book that much more intimate, and golf claps to Andrew for taking the time and putting on the pads to shoulder a project like this delegated to him from a figure that is quickly becoming a Godfather in the scene. Buy it.

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