Jul 2013 15

CracknationNew wave, no wave, old wave, fuck off! In the ’90s, the machines placed their indelible stamp on underground rock music, the noise of industrial took over, and the vicious onslaught of coldwave began! Among the many proponents of this style was a Chicago entity called Acumen – later to become Acumen Nation, founded by Jason Novak and which later branched off to become a prominent figure in the throngs of American industrial music – later branching off into numerous other outlets encompassing the sounds of drum & bass, heavy metal, shoegazer, and other electronic genres under the band’s own Cracknation imprint. Enduring every conceivable pitfall a musician could imagine from lawsuits over the usage of the band name to record label politics to changes in the lineup and the audience, the Cracknation suffered an undeniable tragedy in 2012 with the death of guitarist/producer Jamie Duffy. Shortly thereafter, the coldwave scene rallied together under the guidance of Novak and WTII Records’ David Schock, putting together the Coldwaves tribute to Jamie Duffy, featuring a plethora of the genre’s heaviest hitters from newer acts like I:Scintilla and Cyanotic to veterans like Hate Dept., Chemlab, Final Cut, 16volt, Clay People, and of course the Cracknation crew. It was an event that not only celebrated the life of an extraordinary musician but also the music that shaped a generation and brought a fractured community back together.

 

With over 20 years of history, the story of Cracknation is the story of the coldwave scene – from humble beginnings emulating the bygone era of industrial music to later incorporations of harder forms of metal and more experimental uses of technology. With Rally and Sustain, director Aaron Pollak chronicles the history of the imprint, compiling a massive amount of photographs and video footage reaching all the way back to even before Acumen’s inception to coverage of the Cracknation performances at the Coldwaves festival. From Acumen to Acucrack, Fawn to Czar, covering virtually every major event in the Cracknation’s chronology including tours with Clay People leading to the formation of Iron Lung Corp., tours with Cubanate and Curve, the hardships of life in the music business, the responsibilities and the joys of family and friendship, and not least of all the legacy left behind by Jamie Duffy and the undeniable impact he made on not only those who knew and worked with him but also those who have enjoyed the music he helped to create and bring to the masses, Rally and Sustain leaves no stone unturned. Funded by the fans via Kickstarter and featuring interviews with members of the Cracknation family past and present, along with Jim Marcus of Die Warzau/GoFight, F.J. DeSanto of The Aggression/Hypefactor, Sean Payne of Cyanotic, and 16volt’s Eric Powell, Rally and Sustain is not content to simply be a documentary. The two-disc DVD set features an additional 40 minutes of additional interviews recounting stories about Jamie Duffy, the origins of Czar and Ahnusse, to the BBQ Tragedy – the acoustic alter-ego of Acumen Nation, and over 100 minutes of live footage of Cracknation bands from the early ’90s to the entire Cracknation set from Coldwaves 2012. Still not enough for you? Rally and Sustain is also available with a complementary book of “Cracklogues,” including numerous e-mails, journal entries, blog posts, and other writings taking fans further into the minds of some of the hardest working musicians in the industrial underground.

 

On Saturday, June 22, Rally and Sustain made its debut at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge, followed by a special performance by BBQ Tragedy. With all the members of Acumen Nation past and present coming together onstage with acoustic guitars, live drums, and even fitting in such oddities as mandolin and electric violin and piano, the band launched into a raucous mix of Acumen’s best songs. Given the intensity of the band’s music over the years, coupled with the heavy emphasis on the electronic aspects, one might question the success of translating the music into an acoustic setting – and yet, when stripped of the electronics and the distortion, the real strength behind the band’s music becomes apparent: the excess of volume only served to enhance the true intensity behind Acumen Nation, which lies in the songwriting, the melodies at once scathing and beautiful, the lyrics devastating, sardonic, humorous, and above all heartfelt. Songs like “Rally and Sustain,” “Queener,” “DJentrify,” and “If You Were” to name but a few work well in the acoustic setting rather astonishingly, with the band members demonstrating not only their musical skills but their sometimes acerbic but always engaging wit with each performance. The set ended with a swinging version of “Fuckface” to bring BBQ Tragedy’s set to a close and give Rally and Sustain an explosive debut.

 

Now in 2013, the legacy continues! With Coldwaves II coming up and spanning two days in September, the festival features an all new lineup of bands including Skrew, Bile, Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas J. McCarthy, Promonium Jesters with former KMFDM member En Esch, and Prong, along with returning mainstays Clay People, Iron Lung Corp., 16volt, Hate Dept., and DJ Zoltar. With tickets on sale via the Coldwaves website, Chicago’s Metro is the place to be on September 27 – 28 to witness a historic entry in the annals of American industrial music and to celebrate the coming together of the coldwave community!

 

Like the song says… “Turn those machines back on!”

 

Coldwaves II Banner

 

Rally and Sustain Website http://rallyandsustain.com
Rally and Sustain Facebook http://www.facebook.com/rallyandsustain
Cracknation Website http://www.cracknation.com
Cracknation Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cracknation/285988987668
Coldwaves Website http://coldwaves.net
Coldwaves Facebook https://www.facebook.com/coldwavesfestival
Coldwaves Twitter http://twitter.com/COLDWAVES_
 
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

 

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