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Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack

July 2, 2010 4 comments
Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack – S/T 12″ EP (Empire Records, 2003)

This is one of my all-time favorite records for so many different reasons. I was at Super Sabado Gigante Fest in LA in 2003 and my friend Andy shoved this record in my face and demanded I buy it. Based solely on his insistence I knew it was going to be great and when he informed me of the DIY punk royaltly Mike Kirsch (of Pinhead Gunpowder, John Henry West, Bread and Circuits, Torches to Rome) as well as members of Former Members of Alfonsin, I couldn’t wait to get home and listen. Upon first listen, I don’t think any other record has ever confused and delighted me like this record did.

The needle slipped into the groove and a voice whispers through my speakers: “blast off” then ushering in an explosion of sounds that breaks down normal conventions of what a “punk” record ought to sound like. The track is put together like a hip hop instrumental as it loops a funky locked groove squeezed between esoteric samples reminiscent of a blaxploitation soundtrack, but all the while with the artistic conviction of a carefully articulated sound collage. The track ends quickly and a hypnotic riff spirals into your ears, it’s hypnotic, but foreboding, a perfect calm-before-the-storm as it leads into a furious Nation of Ulysses inspired attack. The track ends and and another funky groove is looped while a sampled narration describes the role of the cosmopolitan epicenter. The formula repeats over and over throughout the record, 6 punk songs with a sound collage between each track. Some of these collages are tightly crafted units drawing samples from jazz and funk such as Ramsey Lewis, but other samples are as simple as a joke from Malcolm X.

While this record greatly challenged the normal confines of what defined a “punk” sound, these sample-based creations were not new as Mike Kirsch had previously used a Fela Kuti sample on the Bread and Circuits LP and numerous bands had popularized the use of sampling lines from speeches or movies. However, in the way that so much attention and time is devoted to these sample-based tracks defies cliche and somehow makes the record less of a “punk” record and more of a “political” record. Whether it comes from the polyphonic vocal attack, the driving hypnotic guitars, or the samples that simulate a kind of Black Panther Soul Train, this records exudes agitation in a way that is intelligent, but also in a way that is more accessible than the traditional punk song.

The slick production on the record is mirrored by the amazing design work that makes up lyric booklet. The LP cover itself is not very interesting, but the booklet is done in a crisp style that mirrors the funk and flavor of the samples with the apocalyptic imagery of the fiery riffs. The lyrics are neo-romantic, dripping with post-modern metaphors as the group finds unique ways to criticize capitalism, war and the American government.

This is a record that I will always buy whenever I run into it because I know there is someone who still hasn’t heard it. Give it a listen, expand your musical concepts. In the zip file I have included full scans of the booklet for your viewing pleasure. If you just want to look at the rest of the images, check out my¬†flickr.

In the coming weeks I will post a rip of their second record as well as with an essay discussing sonic protest through the aggressive nature of politically charged hip hop group Public Enemy and Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack.

Link in the comments. Scans with the help of Eydie McConnell.

Categories: 2003, Punk