Fragility, Purgatory, Resurrection
There’s a movie waiting to happen about the young life span of Philadelphia band ‘Nothing’. They’ve only been around since 2010 after lead singer Domenic Palermo in a phoenix like act founded the group after spending time effectively in Hades, both physically and emotionally. Initially 2 years in actual prison for aggravated assault charges (to which he pleaded self-defence in an altercation that resulted in an individual being stabbed), then the emotive dark spiral of surviving that experience took it’s toil and he parted from the music scene for 5 years.
When he returned with Nothing, it was no longer the sound of his previous hardcore/punk incarnation ‘Horror Show’ which had been going for a few years prior to that night that changed everything. What emerged from that absence of freedom and the outlet of music was a sound that could only come from enforced deep reflection and isolation, alot of it.
Of course the power and energy of his previous work was still there, but as that was the raw and beautiful sound of the chaos of youth, the Boy, there now stood the Man. The power was harnessed, focused to a new intensity that aimed straight for the heart and mind, and what power it was powerfully and emotively aided by fellow band member Brandon Setta bringing rich dense soundscapes. ‘Guilty of Everything’ was released in 2014 and packed with the emotional hypnotic brooding resonance seeped in a rich bloodied marinade of My Bloody Valentine, The Smashing Pumpkins, Slowdive, Ride and a multitude of others in the shoegaze scene, but there was a saturated lush quality to the music they produced, they weren’t an homage to a scene, they may indeed be time travellers who’ve jumped into Bill and Ted’s phonebox from the 90s and called in to say ‘hi’ to 2014. It wasn’t a nostalgia trip either. There was far more to come.
‘Guilty of Everything’ was in my top 5 albums of 2014. Played at least once a week (if not every day for some weeks), and played in it’s entirety each time it was played. And now they’ve done it again. 2016 brings us their latest mind and heart melting sumptuous sweeping creation ‘Tired of Tomorrow’. It also has a dark precursor to it’s conception in that Domenic was mugged and left with a fractured skull and orbital, a long hospital stay, alot of medication, isolation and the poignancy of your mortality literally slammed into your face and your ear torn off. That mortality cruelly announced itself once again in the loss of Palermo’s father in a tragic accident and the death of bassist Nick Bassett’s mother. There was a lot going on to say the least, and there was still trouble with their label on the account that they discovered the label was financed by hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli (the guy who dramatically/cruelly increased the price of AIDS drugs), which lead to having to find another label, quickly. Most folk would have walked away in defeat at all this, Nothing made an album, and it’s straight into my top albums of 2016.
From the opening bars of ‘Fever Queen’ (the album was written while in hospital) it instantly sounds like you’ve known it your entire life. Flipping from a banging repetitive soaring drum roll almost representing the relentlessness of pain itself only to be released into the euphoria of what could be described as the sound of morphine. That soothing sensuous opiate sound continues on throughout the entire album, imbued with the darkness of reality, masking it’s harsh edges to give you a chance to cope, to survive, to heal. It’s by no means dour, there’s a clarity, integrity, maturity and honesty inherent in dealing with such realities. There’s also a freedom as feels apparent in the soaring elation of ‘Vertigo Flowers’ or ‘ACD (Abcessive Compulsive Disorder)’ where Domenic’s vocals give you the support mechanism to deal with anything, and you know he’s singing from the truth.
Music has always had a magical cathartic power. It can soundtrack the best of times and it can guide you through the worst of times. It has the power to make people love, laugh, smile, inspire, create, build, bond, share and live. It also gives us the life force to keep us going no matter what is thrown at us. These bumps, scrapes and body slams of life leave us scared and battered, but it also makes us more beautiful because we get up off the canvas and keep running forward. Nothing are prime examples of this, ‘Tired of Tomorrow’ is life, in all it’s dark beautiful mortal reality.
Nothing ‘Tired of Tomorrow’ is out 13th May. They also play The Moth Club, London 13th May, check bandofnothing.com for further details.