Leaves Turn: An exploration of post-hardcore act Unwound in 10 records




Unwound Fake Train

Fake Train
(Kill Rock Stars, 1993)

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This is an album of firsts. Fake Train was their first actual LP release, their first on the Kill Rock Stars label and the first with new drummer Sara Lund. In the liner notes of Numero’s Rat Conspiracy, Lund recalls how she always felt like an outsider to the band that felt meant for Trosper, Rumsey and Sandero and perhaps its this unease that helped push their music to a whole new level.  Make no mistake it’s still a raw record with some less impressive moments but the flashes of brilliance come much more consistently, especially on the album’s middle run.

At the centre of the album, and possibly the band’s greatest achievement (certainly for their early days), is the epic behemoth ‘Valentine Card / Kantina / Were, Are And Was or Is’. Three songs that were rehearsed, performed and recorded in sequence so often that they became one. The combined piece shows their complimentary talents: the hypnotic bass lines, the awkward, tense drum patterns, the beautiful Thurston Moore aping guitar sound, and one of the earliest, dare I say, “catchy” examples of vocals. While the haunting ‘Honourosis’ or erratic opener ‘Dragnalus’ are impressive, nothing comes close to the album’s beating heart.

new plastic ideas

New Plastic Ideas  
(Kill Rock Stars, 1994)

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A tightly packed nine-track tension builder. New Plastic Ideas saw the band take a step back from their hardcore punk roots and push towards a more ambitious sound. There’s a clear development in much more melodic tracks like ‘Envelope’ or ‘All Souls Day’ that feature an extended outro and an odd time signature, which played live they used to drag out for as long as was humanly possible. And then there’s the stunning, post-rock instrumental ‘Abstraktions’ which sits at the album’s centre and shows off a real beauty to what could be otherwise considered “ugly” music. The real gem here though is the penultimate cut ‘Arboretum’ which wonderfully melds all this record’s sounds into one. A slower tempo from the rest and gorgeous work from the trio highlights the band’s ability to be both tense and up-lifting.

Fake Train and New Plastic Ideas are compiled in Rat Conspiracy (Numero, 2014)

Check it out here.

Rat Conspiracy

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