The first Nation Of Ulysses record, released on the cheekily-named Diskord imprint – a combination of Dischord and K Records, you see, I picked up this record around ten years after it came out, as Nation Of Ulysses were a band that I retrospectively discovered and explored, having first got into later associated bands Make-Up and Weird War. Part of what I like about collecting records is this ‘fill in the gaps’ mentality – uncovering something new and exciting from the past and knowing that there are some very specific, distinct items that will help join the dots in my mental mind map of music.
It’s clear to see the influence that NOU had on bands like Huggy Bear from the packaging of this record. The band create a mythology around themselves, presented in the form of typewritten manifestos, faux-historical documentation and mugshot-style photography. It’s spectacularly arrogant and self-serving, naturally, but it really works. I like the idea of Nation Of Ulysses and their members being some kind of youth terrorist organisation/cult, involved in an endless struggle against the man. It could be interpreted as less than tasteful in these post-9/11 times perhaps, but I have a feeling that if NOU started up today they’d do exactly the same thing. Musically, and alongside all of the posturing, this is a fantastic record. I dearly wish I’d have had the chance to see the band play live, as footage I’ve seen makes it look like it was amazingly exciting. The closest it has got for me is seeing Ian Svenonius fronting Weird War at an All Tomorrow’s Parties some years back – and that was pretty damned good. It was totally eclipsed, however, by the mind-blowingly brilliant performance from Hella that I experienced on the same day. But therein lies a separate story.
On a separate note, track down the Ian Svenonius-fronted Soft Focus show on VBS TV, it’s worth your time, he’s an erudite and confident interviewer and has managed to get decent commentary out of all kinds of musicians including Genesis P. Orridge, Ian Mackaye, Calvin Johnson, Henry Rollins and Kevin Shields.