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The Illness with Steve West & Bob Nastanovich

Descending G / Phrases Redacted (Sea)

By • Oct 14th, 2020 • Category: Single review

When you’re a new band fighting for every bit of media coverage it doesn’t do any harm to get some famous names on your side.

And for a certain fan demographic – ’90s indie slacker kids – what bigger draw than a couple of members of Pavement?

Especially if you’re from the relative music wasteland of England’s north east. So The Illnesss have looked to their polar opposite – geographically at least – to California, and from the USA’s south-west, to one of the most revered and influential bands – Pavement.

Formed from a (relatively-speaking) supergroup comprised of Sea Records’ roster – Ambulance, Avenging Force, Wolf Solent, Broken Arm, Alisia Cooper – The Illness have somehow lured Steve West and Bob Nastanovich (also of Silver Jews fame) to augment their debut release.

And ‘Descending G’ bounds along nicely like an amped-up Pavement and West drawling over the top – “gotta take a stroll… tippy-toe” but it’s a brisk journey to a feedback-drenched coda with what may be noseflutes trilling on top.

For ‘Phrases Redacted’ it’s the turn of Nastanovich, having what sounds like a chat in the recording studio with his own inner monologue about jump-starting a car: as feedbacky guitar again slithers around behind a electronic backing – “that guy’s leaving… drive the car around”.

And there’s a bonus – two remixes of each track. For ‘Descending G’, Stapylton adds a prominent, backbeat contrasting its shoegazey overall feel with a Davy Henderson-esque drawled vocal.

Stuck Sunsets’ reinterpretation again brings something completely different to the party, all syncopated rhythm with the instrumentation buried way back in the mix.

The same producer also takes on ‘Phrases Redacted’, and this treatment is more industrial, deconstructing the vocal into something a bit more sinister, the overall effect being ‘Voice of America’-era Cabaret Voltaire.

So oddly, or perhaps not, the Cabs are the first point of reference for ‘Game Program’s take on the track, but this time from the ‘Crackdown’ era with some decidedly dancey blips and beeps which may also stem from the same sample, both remixes focusing on West’s “I could kill for some coca-cola” line.

So ok, it may seem a bit of a cheat bringing in the big guns, but The Illness sounds like they’re already an act to be reckoned with, the Pavement pair just the icing on the cake.

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