ECR #052: spotlight on Lungfish

Lungfish have been on the Dischord record label for a very long time, adiposity and have released ten albums — and if someone (in this case, Ian MacKaye) likes a band that much, then I owe it to myself to at least check them out, right?

It’s difficult to describe what they sound like, as most of their music kinda sounds all the same, but what a sweet same it is! Tom Breihan of the Village Voice sez:

“Lungfish isn’t a band that anyone could readily describe, but here’s about the best I can do: Bruce Dickinson singing for a screwed-and-chopped TV on the Radio. That’s totally not right at all (and it sounds terrible), but you try doing any better. More to the point, Lungfish understands the psychedelic possibilities of extreme repetition better than any band I’ve ever heard; the only ones that come close are the Boredoms and Three-6 Mafia. Typically, the band starts out with a slow, hammering snakecharmer riff. Then they keep going with it. Then they keep going. All the while, Dan Higgs howls over the top like a wise old demon. When all this is being done right in front of you, loud, it’s an overwhelming experience, a total immersion thing. For this band to be playing in my hood on my birthday, not even a month after I moved to this city, this was a gift from God.

Lungfish’s live show looks something like this: three skinny middle-aged punk guys standing at the back of the stage, off to the side (behind the curtain at Southpaw), feet planted, slowly grinding out their elephantine riffs, and one guy standing at the front of the stage, singing. Higgs is basically Rick Rubin playing Captain Ahab, an insane, focused, rabbinical, hulking, hairy, balding man with fierce, intense eyes. He might be in his 50s, but I can’t really tell. He wears worn-out suits, and his hands are covered in tattoos (and he tours as a tattoo artist, so the rest of him probably is as well). Sometimes he walks with a cane. I used to see him all the time around Baltimore, at supermarkets or record stores, and I was always scared to approach him. When Lungfish is playing, he becomes a demon, snarling, climbing over monitors, hiding behind the curtain, staring down every member of the audience. It’s always a breathtaking performance.”

Track listing:
Constillations (“Sound In Time”, 1995)
Ain’t No Color (“Necklace Of Heads” EP, 1989)
Mother Made Me (“Rainbows From Atoms”, 1993)
Computer (“Pass And Stow”, 1994)
To Whom Your Were Born (“Sound In Time”, 1995)
X-Ray The Pharoah (“Sound In Time”, 1995)
Organ Harvest (“Indivisible”, 1996)
Pray For The Living (“Artificial Horizon”, 1997)
Space Orgy (“The Unanimous Hour”, 1999)
Vulgar Theories (“The Unanimous Hour”, 1999)
Shapes In Space (“Necrophones”, 2000)
Love Is Love (“Love Is Love”, 2003)
Sing (“Feral Hymns”, 2005)

Egg City Radio #052: spotlight on Lungfish (MP3)

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696 Responses to ECR #052: spotlight on Lungfish

  1. illlich says:

    Yeah– I vividly remember the one performance of them I saw, and the description is pretty suitable: muscular mantra guitar riffs with insane preacher/biker/prophet belting out word-association poetry and semaphore hand-signals over the top of it all. Made for a great show, but never made me want to buy the albums– maybe I should give the recordings a chance.

  2. Kenneth Edmond Anderson says:

    I think it took Lungfish two or three albums to get a formula down. Pass and Stow might be a good one to start with. Backbone starts to show through the riffage. Higgs’s postmodern poetry begins to work the way he wants it to. That’s not to say it is anywhere near comprehendable. Higgs’s solo records, excluding the latter three quarters of the tedious forty minute single-track CD Cone of Light, are enchanting and spooky. He plays unconventional instruments.

  3. LG says:

    Thanks for the post! I’m a longtime fan of Lungfish, and was lucky enough to see them play about 6 times over the span of their career. Just personal opinion, Rainbows From Atoms, Pass & Stow, Indivisible, and Sound In Time are probably my favorites.

  4. Yeah yeah industrial estate says:

    Big thanks for this post, i only have Sound in time, indivisible and Love is love so this was a great way for me to check out their other stuff ta.

    I think i could probably to mother made me on an infinite loop and never tire of it. Wouldnt mind checking out that Cone of light album too, it sounds really interesting.

    Top blog by the way.

    Jim

  5. Schuyler Porter says:

    Does anyone know to to get a copy of Cone of Light or where eto purchase it?

  6. Bill says:

    Reminiscent of NoMeansNo to my ear.