Chain and The Gang
Down With Liberty . . . Up With Chains! (KLP203)
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The songs they have created on Down With Liberty … Up With Chains [KLP203] are sing-alongs; a call and response in the tradition of gospel tunes, work favorites and the girl groups and vocal aggregates that once dotted the corners of the Mid-Atlantic United States. It sounds as natural as a freak hail storm or the roar of a lion on the veldt. The album is cunningly constructed – like a series of tone poems or work songs; the remnants of time served, a universal debt paid to society. It started with one lifer (Svenonius) and grew to include a gang of small time bandits with Calvin Johnson, Brett Lyman (Bad Thoughts), Sarah Pedal, Faustine Hudson (The Curious Mystery), Brian Weber (Dub Narcotic Sound System), Veronica Ortuño (Finally Punk), Nicolaas Zwart (Desolation Wilderness), Karl Blau, Chris Sutton (Hornet Leg), Sixx (The Vibrarians), Arrington de Dionyso, Aaron Hartman and Benjamin Hartman (Old Time Relijun).
How do they describe their sound? Something they just found. They dug it up from the ground. Essential to that soil: guitar, drums, organ, saxophone and chants; paying off our collective debt to the universe. There are songs with a driving locomotive engine ("Reparations," "Interview with the Chain Gang"), a full-on choir of the disenfranchised ("Cemetery Map," "Deathbed Confession," Trash Talk") and disentangled, soul-influenced invitations to a celebration ("Room 19" and "Unpronounceable Name").Down With Liberty … Up With Chains is simple and profound, the way a pebble on the beach is. There are no song cycles, sample beats, sequencers or baby pictures of the artist as a tot.
"Ian Svenonius is an inadvertent pioneer. His career has been a studied attempt to advance the history of punk rock, using influences as tools to build with rather than styles to flaunt and discard." - The Wire