Bless – “Melting” (1989)

For the first time in quite a while I don’t have any records sitting on the “stuff I bought and haven’t listened to yet” shelf.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate – there are currently three records there.  Two of them need to get cleaned before I’ll play them… but I’m too lazy to go through all the time and trouble without a few more records to clean at the same time.  The other is a 12″ that I’ve had for a while and have been waiting to write about in a joint post with another person, and we just haven’t been able to connect to get it done.  This lack of records staring at me and begging to be played is both a relief, since I don’t feel the weird OCD pressure of having things I “need to listen to,” but also a bit of a downer because it means I don’t have anything new and exciting lined up.

Fortunately I have hundreds (rapidly approaching a thousand) records on the shelves, and it took me all of a minute to put my grubby paws on something I haven’t listened to in a while and never wrote about, the Melting EP by the Icelandic band Bless.  I have written about Bless before – they were fronted by none other than the esteemed Icelandic musical historian and all around good guy Dr. Gunni, a guy who I’ve bought a number of records from over the last few years.  Gunni’s projects tend to be interesting in a garage-psych-weirdness kind of way, which is just what the doctor ordered for a Saturday morning.

We were watching a 2005 documentary about Icelandic music last night called Screaming Masterpiece, and while it was a hit-or-miss affair, there was an interesting moment when the filmmakers asked a musician (whose name I didn’t catch) what makes the Icelandic music scene so unique.  His response was very simple – basically no one expects to sell many records because the country is so small, so people just make what they want.  There’s no pressure to write hits or follow the mainstream.  In my experience there’s a lot of truth to that simple sentiment.  And Dr. Gunni is one of those musicians who just makes the music he wants to make.

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Melting‘s seven songs only run a little more than 16 minutes total.  Stylistically it’s difficult to describe – it’s a bit indie, some psych, more than a little post-punkish, a cacophony of sound capped off with Gunni’s often high pitched signing voice.  Who can I compare Bless too?  I mentioned Half Japanese in a previous post about their LP Bless, and that still seems legit.  Maybe some elements of Southern Death Cult, some Iggy Pop, and even a touch of Smashing Pumpkins?  The good news is that it’s hard to compare Bless to other bands, meaning it’s got unique qualities.  Gunni and the boys keep it extremely raw and edgy, giving the songs a nearly out-of-control quality that separates them from the pack.

“Nothing Ever Happens In My Head” is the most approachable, prototypically rock song on Melting, though it’s still got plenty of that Dr. Gunni style to it.  “Akkerið Mitt / My Anchor” is a bit on the heavy side, a bit more structured and driving with the drums and bass while the guitar conducts an acid-psych attack on your brain.  All in all it’s a super cool record, and though relatively hard to find will certainly be a welcome addition to your collection.

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