So much rock music is dreary, clichéd and about as exciting as a convention of actuaries. Probably half of my collection consists of guitar bands, but most of them sit there unloved and unlistened to. But when it’s done well, with spirit and passion, then there is little as exciting as a great rock tune. “It’s Still Nowhere” is one of these.
The Aints were a side project put together by former Saint and Laughing Clown Ed Kuepper as a vehicle for a more basic, rocky sound that didn’t really fit with his solo work. Ascension was the first album recorded by the group, under the twin influences of John Coltrane (the title) and the Stooges (the cover). The record consisted of six tracks of raucous, freeform rock, which culminated in the eleven minute avant-epic title track.
“It’s Still Nowhere” opens the record with a squall of feedback, and almost immediately the guitars are flying. There is a central simple riff that underpins the verses and chorus, but outside of that, the track is little more than extended soloing. Everything is so bloody loud, too – the sound is abrasive, and could blister the paint off walls. When Kuepper lets rip like this, he has few peers – think Neil Young at his free-est, Tom Verlaine at his rawest, garnish with late period Coltrane’s astral travelling, and you get some idea of where he is aiming. “It’s Still Nowhere” is seven and a half minutes of brutal, visceral rock that sounds as exciting now as it did when I first heard it fifteen years ago. If only there were young bands out there now with a grasp of how to make rock music as good as this, instead of producing endless retreads of the same half dozen ideas.