I’m Not What I Was

A USB stick release on Bristol's Avon Terror Corps indulges Noel Gardner's taste for vulgarity

“NO JEW EVER MADE A WOMAN COME. I READ IT IN A FUCKING GUARDIAN ARTICLE.” Not my words – I must have taken a different newspaper on the day the article in question was printed – but one of very many from Concentration’s I’m Not What I Was EP which I could have written out in upper case and began this review with for attention-grabbing purposes. The song is titled ‘Circumcision’ and it’s the complicated story of one man’s efforts to iron out the social and psychological wrinkles of his Jewish ancestry. I mean, it’s also a succession of bugeyed rants about death camps and mutilated dicks and learning to piss, set to chaotically overloaded punk electro with a brief little klezmer-type break for emphasis. Things can work on two levels.

I’m Not… is the second piece of Concentration product, the also slightly-below-full-length Premature having been released in 2018. This new one, available on a USB stick if you were quick enough (you weren’t), is released by Avon Terror Corps, a Bristol label rarely conspicuous by their reticence. Except they’ve rebadged as Global Terror Corps to acknowledge that Concentration are a Berlin-based trio who began as a Melbourne duo, comprising vocalist Zachariah Kupferminc and button masher Matt Sativa, before enlisting Thrush, who seems to be some sort of performance artist. All members seem to favour a state of undress when playing gigs, and you could observe the general carry-on as ‘very German’ (spanky synth pumpers, illicit cabaret decadence, sexual frankness) or, equally, ‘very Australian’ (inheritors of the audience-endangering trash ethos propagated by underground grotters such as Justice Yeldham and Suicidal Rap Orgy; a satisfied customer on the ATC Bandcamp also mentions enduring blue comedian Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson).

This EP can definitely function as party music, coming on like amyl and torn speaker cone paper converted into soundwaves, but the lugubrious side of Concentration heard on Premature hasn’t been totally excised. As well as the ‘stare into the abyss of your ethnicity’s history and laugh’ vibe of the previously discussed track, there’s ‘Spiderfucker’. Kupferminc scowls something about miserable pricks and little boys who keep repeating his name; “disgraceful! Disgraceful!” crows Thrush over spacey, tinted-windows electro. ‘Jihadi Dole Bludger’ (the narrative, so far as I can make sense of it, seems to be closer to a celebration of such a figure than a condemnation) bursts forth with intense rhythm spasms now and then but is more often glitchier and moodier, ending with a wavey vocal collage. Best of all is a cover of ‘Dead Men Don’t Rape’ by 7 Year Bitch, a riot grrrl-adjacent band from grunge-era Seattle, for which Thrush takes the lead with rightly murderous fervour.

While the combination of danceable noise and shouting will never be fully out of vogue, I’m Not What I Was might sail too close to electroclash for some jaded tastes. In a more recent context, they share certain ground with No Bra, The Modern Institute, maybe even recent Consumer Electronics (Kupferminc has a little Philip Best in his elongated vowels), but if you like your vulgarity to be both sonic and verbal, step this way.

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