Unwound: A Salient Retrospective

by / 30/07/12

I have been an enthusiastic Unwound fanboy for just over three years. Having spent that long lamenting the obscurity in which they languish, I feel honour-bound to grant them the exposure they deserve.

Unwound formed as a trio in 1991, with their core line-up consisting of a vocalist/guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. Compensating for their lack of personnel by making a fuck-tonne of noise, Unwound began their career channeling the vim and vigour of post- hardcore and combining it with abrasively

dissonant passages. As the band progressed, though, so too did their leanings towards the avant-garde. 1998’s Challenge For a Civilized Society, for example, features free-jazz oriented saxophone solos that double as a substitute for industrial-grade paint stripper.

All these aspects culminated in their opus, Leaves Turn Inside You. A disorientating swirl of an album, it begins with two minutes of a droning noise that sounds much like a frequency test and touches on post-rock, dream-pop and hardcore as it progresses.

By this stage, Unwound had almost entirely lost the furious front of their earlier work. Though they still evidence bitter vitriol on occasion, they mostly sound apathetic; too jaded and burnt out to care very much about life’s disappointments and injustices. Hence the title of the closing track: ‘Who Cares?’.

The title is a sardonic reference, too, to the utter lack of critical or commercial acclaim Unwound had received throughout their existence. That they split up disillusioned and is unfortunate; that they still have yet to achieve the recognition they’re due is fucking tragic. As lame as it is to answer their rhetorical question; I care, and if you immerse yourself in their dizzying musical world then you might too. And remember, YouTube is your friend.

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