Outer Battery Records
Heavy Blanket is a trio album, hard rock, almost metal – almost – in the sludge rock/stoner-rock sense. But really it’s 38 minutes of guitar solos. With drums and bass in support (and to support). Depending on where you stand with J and his beautiful noise you’ll either love it more than you ever expected or hate it more than the other stuff of his you (apparently) hate.
Some wag posted a story the other year wondering who, out of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, would get J Mascis in the divorce.
When listening to Heavy Blanket I found it very useful to imagine that scenario – J Mascis as perpetual petulant teen, overgrown, over-anguished, disappointed with the news that his “parents” were no longer there for him, but able to – momentarily – shrug it off with some splatter-paint guitar shrapnel aimed at the neighbours, aimed at smashing the state (of mind).
It’s a handy way to approach this record, I reckon. Worked for me anyway. Blistering solos are not new in the J Mascis world but wordless songs are. These instrumentals don’t meander though, they roar. They really roar. He really wails.
So, imagine stroppy J, upset that mum (Kim) and dad (Thurston) can’t see eye to eye any longer and he’s caught in the middle. He takes his copy of Maggot Brain and the first Black Sabbath album and squishes them together, mashing them between his clammy palms. And then he scribbles over them furiously with an electric crayon of sound. That is how I hear Heavy Blanket. So much so that at the end, no longer furious – but very much a (new) calm before a (new) storm – I like to imagine J, ever-so-slightly-spent from the onanism that is never far from most of his playing can hear a voice calling to him; maybe telling him his dinner is ready. Or to go outside and play, to pack that noisy racket away for a while. And maybe it’s Thurston’s voice or maybe it’s Kim’s (depends on what weekend it is I suppose).
Oh – I’ve lost you now right? Okay, big finish: I fucking loved this album. Extraordinary. Just a big guitar workout, brutal and beautiful and orgiastic and ritualistic and spell-conjuring and simple and squally and huge and ominous and soulful and frank and messy and wise and somehow a reminder of Blue Cheer. Loved it.