Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Chameleons - Swamp Thing

In late January my wife went to Austin, Texas for two weeks. During her absence I found myself somewhat in a state of disorder. My routines, namely work, commute, write, watch/read could all remain the same but my down time was eerily lonesome. I had our three cats, but they tend to exist in one of two modes - eating or sleeping - so although they were always present, there was a lack of conversation. During that time I listened to a lot of music, loading the old iPod with a number of records I had been meaning to get around to for some time and spent my days at work getting to know some new music. One of those records was The Chameleons' Strange Times. This was the first Chameleons I'd had the opportunity to delve into and it made a very strong impression very quickly.

One of the things I always find so interesting about the "Post Punk" era is the fact that many of the bands attributed to the genre sound a great deal to my ears the way the British New Wave of Comic creators in the 80's read/looked to my eyes/brain. Killing Joke sounds like 80s/90s Vertigo comics, so does Joy Division, The Smiths*... the list goes on. Upon first listen I found this was also the case with Strange Times, especially the track Swamp Thing, which whether my interpretation was a suggested planted by the title or merely some shared DNA with the book, reminds me so much of the tone of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run that I've pulled the trades I read a scant two years ago back out and am preparing to re-read. It's an eerie, sometimes defeated tone; an often emotionally overwhelming ode to the in between places we often fret to explore, and The Chameleons craft it very well, with a unique approach to arranging the standard rock instrumentation (guitars, bass, kit and keyboards) and a knack for open, verbose lyrics that somehow perfectly balance a line between ambiguity and precision.

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