Incesticide, by Nirvana
Suggested by Alex Hamilton
I’m a gaming nerd. One of my favourites is Blood Bowl, a comically violent fantasy spin on American Football, mixed with Chess. You act as a coach of orcs, dwarves, elves, directing players around the pitch, aiming to capture the ball, incapacitate your opponent’s players, and score touchdowns. Your players gain skills for completing tasks, and you become attached to these plastic chaps as the games and the season unfolds.
Game actions are ruled by dice, determining successes or failures. Roll a six, your plan succeeds. Roll a one, and your player breaks his neck and dies. Successful coaches mitigate risk, but risks are ever present. They’re what makes the game fun.
The fates of these players are governed by chance, of course, but as humans we are conditioned to find patterns in randomness. Roll a few ones? The dice hate me. Roll a few sixes? You’re unstoppable. Certain actions are more important than others, and you know, you just know, that on the crucial turn when you’ll win the game if you roll anything but a one, you’ll roll a damn one nine times out of ten.
The Randomiser lends itself towards a similar cognitive bias. Blood Bowl creates a rich story from a collection of random numbers, and the Randomiser does the same. It’s not as blatant as I’d perhaps like, but it’s there. A certain suggester will have a run of albums, say, or there’s be three rap albums on one day. If this were by design, it’d be blatant. I’d have theme days and artist days and suggester days and more, but there’s still enough intrigue in the random factor to raise an eyebrow.
For Album 258, I reviewed In Utero. My feelings for the band are strong and well-documented. Two albums later? Here we are again, conjuring a modicum of enthusiasm for a band I abhor. My views have not changed in the past twenty-four hours, but the Randomiser demands its pound of metaphorical flesh.
Insesticide is a Nirvana compilation album, focussing on B-sides, BBC session recordings, demos, covers and more. Conceived at the height of their fame, it was released after a push from various interested production parties with access to the material. It had the grudging buy-in from the band, as much of the material was circulating through fan communities anyway, and a new release would send a much higher quality version out into the aether.
Surprisingly, I think I enjoyed this a touch more than In Utero. I’m still no convert, mind, but this album seemed to lack the self-hatred and weary inevitability of their later work. It was even upbeat in places, especially in the earlier tracks. This is likely due to its ad-hoc franken-album approach. The first half of the album sounds very repetitive, with each track pitched at the same speed, adopting the same structure, with the only discernible difference being different syllables playing out in the standard gruff nasal whine.
Incesticide gets 4/10, with (New Wave) Polly being my standout. My opinion is so clouded that it’s largely irrelevant, and I doubt I’m influencing anyone either way. I just hope that the Randomiser gives me a little break from Seattle’s Premium Export, as there’s only so much banality I can sequentially stomach.