Paranoid Visions – Escape From the Austerity Complex (Overground Records)
Haunting start – I sit here typing this review in to a computer nearly 30 years after seeing Paranoid Visions for the first time. It’s a debut I will never forget. My journey started at the bus stop with my bro who was the instigator of most of my punk rock education. As we stood waiting for a bus to bring us in to the Ivy Rooms on Dublins Parnell Street a cyclist kept going past complete with baseball bat in hand. He didn’t need his hands for the steering wheel it was to make sure his intended victim was going to meet their designated fate. It didn’t get any less menacing when i entered the ivy rooms as an underage punker. Dublin was a a scary place, Parnell Street was its breeding ground. Some concerned parents were marching against drugs, others were trying to keep their kids away from those mean streets.
And so my Paranoid Vision journey still continues. This album could captures that feeling all those years ago. It is at parts frightening, at times energising and also at times confusing. The visions have done so much to assist the punk rock community in Ireland. My first band, formed soon after seeing them play, rehearsed in the same space because we asked Deko and PA where should we practice.They brought us to many gigs and we travelled together on many journeys. As someone who has felt like an outsider at times in punk rock I was always welcomed into the visions family. After a while I got involved in putting on gigs myself, and for a brief time became the person who would get the venues as Paranoid Visions were banned from them. That didn’t last too long as the trend in Ireland was to turn on fire extinguishers or break toilet cisterns(if not try to break people) and gigs were scary at times. Deko’s presence on stage always had that violent edge as he reflected what was happening in his city. They faded as a band when the Celtic Tiger was kicking off which probaby makes sense. They are a band of the city, very much depicting Ireland as it is. When recession kicked back in it seems only right that the Visions crawled out of whatever gutter they were keeping warm and spat their vitriol once more.
This is their fifth album since 40 shades of ganggreen sheparded in their return in 2007 and it is their best work since those days of the 80’s in the ivy rooms. I’m sitting here listening and can still see bodies flying through the air as Deko screamed about the system failing us, the difference is that the fire extinguishers generally stay on the walls and that leaks aren’t coming in from broken cisterns.
I Love that bass sound. It’s like JJ burnell from the Stranglers has joined nomeansno. I have this album on loop for a few days and Am loving it.
I remember a world of compilation tapes and hand written letters we mailed to each other. I had nerve rack on quite a few of my tapes for a while and Doug from flies on you is a fixture in both bands. Nerve Rack also had that bass sound but flies on you have the drum machine to suck you in with some post punk tunes. You’ll be singing along to lines you never thought possible if you give them a chance.
As a union activist I attend diversity forums from time to time – if there was a forum on albums I would make a case for this as it dips into different modes – almost mob, rudimentary peni, de kift, riff based punk with Doug snarling at you most of the time. and then there’s some dance a dub version of the exploiteds dead cities which dougs daughter sings in. This is greAt – please try and seek them out.
I’ve been thinking about this piece for a long time. How can I find the exact words to stress just how important FUGAZI were. Important in that they lead the way for my diy generation. I was involved in putting gigs in Dublin for a number of years. I played in a band and when it cam time to play gigs felt mthere was no point in sitting around waiting for things to happen. Be your own scene, create your own journey. We did this for a couple of years and when it came time to start complaingin abuit prices of gigs and why bands weren’t travelling over to Ireland the obvious step was to try and make it happen. This I did, with some friends. We got wind of a band touring Europe called FUGAZI. It was their first tour and and all we knew was that they had been in some pretty good bands previously.
IN todays instant world of knowledge the midst of time can get lost. We wanted to hear Fugazi so we had to source some US dollars, write a letter, post it off and wait. This was our fountain for music – tapes letters and meeting our friends face to face. We heard the three tracl demo and the next step was to start making phone calls to get this band over. After many calls and avenues the band finally heard about it and went for it. For this gig I decided to call this thing Hope Promotions. I asked Paddy who did the poster to put it on ut it didn’t even make there but it was the first official Hope gig. Our world then changed.
Fugazi led the way in that they were involved in every aspect of their art. Like a sculptor creating a piece who sources their own materials to put it on display FUGAZI needed to know where their gigs were on, ensure there was no age restrictions, ensure the door price and even who else was playing on the night. I used to write a fanzine and would always ask bands about the process of playing Dublin, most answers cam back that they have no control over where they play, they are just informed. FUGAZI were different, they had control and they pulled the strings. They returned to Ireland the following year and played to 550 people. When we were counting the money after the gig I took out the expenses for the venue and the associated costs and was ready to hand the band all the remaining money (which is the way it had been done for a couple of years – with smaller amounts of course) and ian McKaye took a portion out and handed back over IR£500 and said now go make things happen. This was monumental for us in Dublin. We could then accept bands over to play, knowing we could cover their ferry fare. I can’t stress how vital this was to our scene in Dublin. Irish punk history has been kind to Hope Promotions (and Hope Collective subsequently) but this display of sleflessness from one band from Washington DC played an immense part in it all.
And then there was their music. It was a blend of RUTS, riffs, rhythm, punk, funk, hardcore. SO hard to pin down and hopefully you are already familiar with their sound. If not I sincerely ask you to get to www.dischord.com and check them out. The band played over 1000 shows and these are all listed on www.dischord.com/fugazi_live_series The band are attempting to put as many of these gigs on the site available for download for $5 each or a price you deem fair.