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Gone, "The Criminal Mind", SST

March 03, 1994|MIKE BOEHM

Some people, at least some of the time, like to have their brains pulverized by a rampant rock guitar. Gone exists to satisfy that desire.

The trio, led by former Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn, takes an all-instrumental approach, the better to carry out its purpose without having itself or the listener sidetracked by the complications of verbal communication. Pure sensation is the primary objective, with Ginn's guitars and his band mates' drums and bass marshaled for maximum impact. The album contains no ballads or quiet interludes. Often, the drums hammer with the drill-press slam of industrial rock. The guitar is solely an abrasive instrument, scraping and straining. This is emphatically not recommended for those who dislike racket.

For those who crave a bit of noise, Gone arranges it deftly. For all the rawness of his delivery, Ginn is a sharp crafter of riffs, and that's what he primarily deals in on this album. His dissonant solos, mercifully brief, are intended strictly to plant a moment's chaos in the heart with numbers that are otherwise coherently structured.

The tracks themselves are brief (the average is under three minutes) as Gone establishes a riff, savors it and then quickly lets it go. Without that brevity, music this pounding and insistent would leave a listener insensate; Gone wants its audience to remain sufficiently conscious to appreciate the bludgeoning.

Many of the 17 tracks on "The Criminal Mind" sound as if Joe Satriani had been taken off his hard rock guitar-hero's shining pedestal and sentenced to make noise in a grimy basement. A few numbers, notably "Smoking Gun in Waco," go to unpleasant extremes of cacophony. But most have something tasty to offer. In "Pull It Out," the band advances in laboring steps, like Sisyphus pushing his rock, with each phrase capped by a braying guitar groan of pain and exhilaration. "Row Nine" is a catchy, Knack-like New Wave rocker with the polish taken off. And "Freeny," the longest and most elaborate piece, captures the simultaneous drama and goofiness of prime surf rock.

Gone is clearly capable of playing with refinement, yet goes for crude impact as a matter of choice--a choice that those seeking a noisy buzz are apt to appreciate.

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