ARTFUL NOISE ROCK PACKS DOWN-TO-EARTH PUNCH
Brooklyn’s Barkmarket are now probably better known as a footnote in the production career of hollerer-guitarist Dave Sardy, but footnote is an F-word we’ll not allow. There’s no way this band should be reduced to footie status. So let’s rewind to 1994 when, after three albums, Barkmarket opened the door to their Lardroom.
Back then, bands like Rollins Band, Helmet, Quicksand and Cop Shoot Cop were probably as popular as they were ever going to get. They hit the festivals, got their videos aired and, in the Rollins Band’s case, tapped briefly on the mainstream’s outer window. These bands had a street-smart intelligence to match the physicality of their music.
Barkmarket grafted in the same neighbourhood, forging a blue collar slab-shifting pummel that’s experimental yet never pretentious … just honest. Creative. Rocking, always. Strange, often. Surreal round the edges, factory-line solid in the centre.
I DROWN kicks off this 15-minute EP with an Opiate-era Tool/non-staccato Helmet blend that runs a fluid groove, especially when it ramps up the body slam at the end. Time signatures shift around but we’ve only got 3 minutes, so you know there’s no indulgence. It’s too rooted in punk and post hardcore sensibilities, but that fluidity of movement within and around the 4/4 is what sets this stupendous track apart. The riffs almost moan but it’s a heavy, girder-like moan. And Sardy lays a voice to match, howling with opaque wordage.
The rest of the EP (except the PUSHIN’ AIR collage goof-off) has the same unwavering aesthetic: freewheeling riffs that take no shit, occasional detours that elevate and separate from brawn-heavy metal. DIG IN’s megathick bass pulls us down some dank Louder Than Love grunge hole, LITTLE WHITE DOVE packs on-off thrash charge and JOHNNY SHIV ends the show with chords that bend and warp, like something being built, hammered and sculpted into being. Got a real sweet groove, too – offbeat and tough – before breaking down to a failed-engine ending.
Where did Barkmarket go from here? Not far. The L Ron album followed in 1996 and then they called time. Dave Sardy went on to produce about a million other bands and score films. No idea what happened to the other band members. No idea about their first two albums either, though Gimmick and L Ron both get the vote. But this EP? A pure shot of golden-age noise rock with sideways smudges.
Released: 1994 on Def American
Length: 15 mins 11 secs
Tracklist: I Drown – Dig In – Pushin’ Air – Little White Dove – Johnny Shiv
For fans of: Helmet, Quicksand, Rollins Band, early Clutch, Kepone, Jesus Lizard, Cement