Unwound - Reflecting on the 25th Anniversary of “New Plastic Ideas”

New Plastic Ideas Was Released in 1994

Jul 11, 2019 By Jordan J. Michael Web Exclusive
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When the time comes to put on an Unwound album, it can be easy to feel like the only Unwound fan on Earth that is listening to that particular document at that special moment. Unwound worshipers are the few and the proud, and each Unwound listening experience could be the equivalent of a volcanic eruption; jubilation mixed with spiteful fire to possibly destroy everything in the upcoming path. Unwound will forever be in the conversation of rock bands that assaulted their gear with the utmost precision, as well as the discussion of artists who pushed their instrumentation to the max, never saying no to experimentation without changing the overall Modus operandi.

The Olympia, Washington psychedelic punk band has seven full-lengths and a sprawling singles compilation that plays like an album, all released in a 10-year span (1991-2001). And every play can be a goosebump-inducing occasion. Somehow, all eight Unwound LPs are inherently peculiar without sounding one ounce offbeat. Quietly, Unwound's imprint is scattered throughout the current rock scene, whether it be bands that create feverish noise or bands that stretch the parameters of guitar-bass-drums.  

Since Unwound played its final show on April Fools Day, 2002the 75-minute performance was published on YouTube by the UnwoundArchive in 2012, and is a must-watch for any fana large crop of 1990s bands have booked reunion tours. Not Unwound; that's why they're top-drawer. 

New Plastic Ideas was Unwound's third album, further extending the sonic spirituality, and displaying a blood-rushing passion that can knock you out. The title of New Plastic Ideas could have meant many musings in 1994, but it probably had to do with the disgust Justin Trosper (guitars, vocals), Vern Rumsey (bass), and Sara Lund (drums) had for the "evil establishment" mentioned in the liner notes. Unwound was very young at the time, but were making music as experienced adults.

"Nu plastik ideas" by "Unwnd" from "kil rok star" is incredible noise artistry. Like most everything that Unwound released, the listener is fully encompassed by the bands' space, especially Trosper's guitar. The movements that Trosper made could be labeled as total probe, although he probably calculated those movements. Trosper is a meticulous mastermind; his guitar lines have melody and soul, but the noises can tear the face. And the abstract but funky Lund-Rumsey rhythm section works so well. Again, this is why Unwound is first-class.

Whether or not New Plastic Ideas is Unwound's best albuma debate that will never end, and frankly, is stupidthere is nay a dull moment. The bouncing hook of opener "Entirely Different Matters" is how every rock collection should start, and the emotional swarm of "Fiction Friction" is how mementos should end. In between, New Plastic Ideas cycles through the psyche; we now know what a tree branch in the wind feels. Maybe the neighbors hate the blast of abrasion, but they respect the musicianship.

The progressive jump from Fake Train to New Plastic Ideas is no mystery, and Unwound wore that growth like a favorite hat until the band was dead. Indeed, the production value increased, but the songs "Hexenzsene," "Abstraktions," "Usual Dosage," and "Arboretum" fall into a tribal headspace that Unwound hinted at previously. And what is going on with the song titles? Right out of the gate, Unwound was different.

Side B presents another grand entrance of a snarling hook ("All Souls Day"). The biting breakdown eventually cuts off abruptly...we wonder how long it played out live in the studio. More and more throughout his career, Trosper could be a singer if he really went for it, and "Envelope" may have been the beginning of the personal vocal challenge ("she won't miss you if you let her"). Meanwhile, Rumsey's bass rings deep down, Lund's drumming is unmitigated, and Trosper's guitar slides into supernova.

Unwound's next album anniversaryeach LP deserves celebrationis next year, and you can count on my reflection of it. Kill Rock Stars' flagship three-piece remained humble, never proclaiming being prodigy, but New Plastic Ideas is where the genius began.  

www.unwound.bandcamp.com

www.killrockstars.com/artists/unwound

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