Saturday, July 26, 2008

Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack - Defeat or Humiliate the United States of America

Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack - Defeat or Humiliate the United States of America

Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack are a turn of the millennium six-piece punk/hardcore band fronted by Mike Kirsch, formerly of Fuel and Bread and Circuits. They play an innovative and spastic form of hardcore, making use of techniques and instruments that are rarely found within the genre. Specifically, their tendency to use samples, both vocal and instrumental, and then implement these into their music to create a variety of combinations across a number of genres (hip-hop, funk, soul). While together, PITCTIAH released only a self-titled EP, but would later, in 2006, release a posthumous full-recording, Defeat or Humiliate the United States of America.

Stylistically speaking, they sound like a more ‘bombastic’ Nation of Ulysses, playing a similarly muddy form of rebellious hardcore while differentiating in that they utilize higher tones and pitches in their music. And… the fuck are those hip-hop beats in the background? ‘kay, two major differences. But structure-wise, they feel like a throwback to a different time period, only employing an experimental new take on their hardcore predecessors. PITCTIAH aren’t re-inventing the wheel here, merely looking at it from an entirely different angle.

The songs on this album can be divided into two different types: the more expected, punkier songs, and the ambient, sample-heavy songs derivative of what you would see in hip-hop. Unlike their debut EP, they rarely mix the two here, opting instead to completely separate the two styles. The ambient tracks are seemingly used as salad dressing here, in order to call attention to the points and themes of the album through use of samples (such as the band using a Stokely Carmichael speech from a 1968 Black Panther rally to free Huey Newton). While this does help in emphasizing the main songs, the filler here can get tiring after a while, especially considering the number of filler tracks here outnumber the real ones eight to six. While this is being billed as a full release, the number of songs minus the filler are of the same number as their EP.

But it’s pretty hard to complain, given the quality. PITCTIAH combine some of the angriest music this side of Refused into a surprisingly listenable and upbeat package, making for a rather fun listen despite, or possibly because of the revolutionary thematic content. As expected by the album title, the lyrics are radical in content, speaking of guerrilla warfare (The Asymmetric Enemy), wide-spread revolution (Karma Collection Day) and the upheaval of an empire (The Ants Will Eat Rome). While it may seem a bit much, it works, mostly due to the sincerity of the words being spoken (another difference between Nation of Ulysses) and the epic properties of the music backing it up. Not only that, but the lyrics are intelligent and poignant in their anger, specifically referencing historical events of note and keeping a sharp wit grounded within their verbal attack (Pressure points and arteries, at home and overseas/capital gains have jugular veins/we’ve got sharpened steel and muscle).

While it’s debatable as to whether this is even the band’s best release, the group succeeds in pushing the boundaries of conventional punk rock well past its breaking point. In addition to its inimitable nature, Defeat or Humiliate the United States of America is a fiery, enjoyable piece of music that manages to invoke the grandiosity of its subject matter into two to three minute bursts of energy in a way that few bands can. Effectively combining inventiveness and creativity with the raw anger and passion of hardcore is a rare feat for even the best bands to accomplish. And even though they had already disbanded by the time this was released, there should be no doubt that PITCTIAH was one of the best, if only for a little while.

Defeat or Humiliate the United States of America


gabbagabbahey said...

I sorta prefer Bread and Circuits with the Fela Kuti samples to this, but it's still awesome. Really good review.

cretin said...

Thanks. I'm still looking for some Bread and Circuits material, so I can't really compare the two at all, but I've heard of the similarities, especially in reference to the samples.

sigh...I need more Kirsch.