For Against - Echelons

Words On Music
(WM14: 656605973425)
Release date: 1987
Genre: Post Punk




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1. Shine, 2. Daylight, 3. Get On With It, 4. Echelons, 5. It's a lie, 6. Autocrat, 7. Forget Who You Are, 8. Loud And Clear, 9. Broke My Back

Available for the first time on CD! Echelons is the debut album by Nebraska's For Against, first released in 1987. The album blends Factory Records atmospherics with the aggressive jangle of early R.E.M., juxtaposed against the earnest and isolated voice of Jeffrey Runnings. These elements conjoin to set the definitive image of the depth, vastness, and loneliness of America's sparse heartland.
 
Several songs on Echelons ("Echelons," "Forget Who You Are," "Broke My Back") perfectly capture the dark colorings of early Factory Records. The title track is replete with jagged, rusty guitar chords, painting gray and black trails onto which Runnings travels while reiterating the cautiously optimistic refrain, "Someone somewhere waits for me." The finale "Broke My Back" is a 7-minute anthem with shadowy chords and Runnings' boldly minimalist bassline — creating an atmosphere so bleak and compelling you can almost picture Martin Hannett behind the mixing console.
 
"Autocrat" weaves guitarist Harry Dingman's Gang of Four-inspired choppy, but ingeniously precise feedback and chord stabs through drummer Greg Hill and bassist Runnings' punchy, but solid rhythm section. Runnings wryly captures the song's essence with a repetitive one-line vocal melody: "Yeah, that's right, that's the way it is."
 
Other material ("Shine," "Get On With It") asserts the janglier elements of early 80s Athens rock, led by Dingmans' Peter-Buck-with-a-reverb-box melodies and Hill's lightning-quick drum patterns. All nine songs are distinctly identified by Runnings' clear, gliding timbre — a striking counterpoint to the dimly lit music supporting him.
 
One of the definitive American post-punk albums, Echelons was celebrated with a Grammy nomination for its remarkable cover design by Bruce Licher (a shaft of wheat accompanied each record sleeve in its initial 1,000 copy letter press run). This re-release is remastered with a six-panel digipak design by Licher.

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