Friday, June 12, 2015

Refused, The Shape of Punk to Come

It still blows my mind that Ornette Coleman is as popular as he is. Not that I don't like him, but I'm surprised that someone who eschewed things like hooks and structure in his music would get the following that he has, one that crosses over from jazz into the alt-rock world. But there it is, and Coleman's compositional innovations can be heard all the way over in punk rock, most famously on Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come, which blew out a world of Epitaph and pop punk in 1998 before paving the way for modern mathcore.

There's no direct connection between The Shape of Punk to Come and Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come, or even a song-for-song link a la Main St. and Guyville. But like Coleman, Refused embodied a famously iconolcastic genre and became the iconoclast among iconoclasts, demolishing notions of what a punk band could be by experimenting with length, structure and arrangements. Nearly 20 years later, with punk rock getting its own gala and exhibit at the Met, The Shape of Punk to Come is, more than ever, the kick in the nuts that punk rock deserves.

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