Big Black - Lungs (EP)

ARTIST: Big Black

ALBUM: Lungs (EP)

LABEL (Year): Ruthless Records (1982)    

FOR FANS OF: The Jesus Lizard, Shellac, Cabaret Voltaire, Killing Joke


Steve Albini has had a remarkable influence on the alternative music industry over the last thirty years. Before all of this, however, in 1982, a 19 year-old Albini produced his first EP, Lungs, with his band Big Black.

Lungs is the first EP produced by the versatile musician, along with his college friend John Bohnen, on the sax, and ‘Roland’, the drum machine.

Pummelling and challenging, the EP is an intriguing yet disturbing mash-up of post-punk and early industrial sounds, blended together by the repetitive beats of the drum machine and the aggressive guitar that creeps through the entire album. 'The Steelworker' is mesmerising and alienating, thoroughly depicting the bleak and lugubrious themes of the EP (crack addicts, child abuse, racism and misogyny, for example). The dissonant sax of 'Dead Billy' is enough to send a shiver down the spine, while the oppressive 'RIP' gives the sensation of being chased.

Big Black were known to bring up political and cultural topics with an abrasive and harsh energy and, reminiscent of industrial performances, Albini sought to assign to every EP an array of objects such as squirt guns, condoms and bloody pieces of paper (fish hooks and razor blades were removed to avoid lawsuits). This would still be a funny marketing stunt for the emo kids of today. I would listen to this in a cold and gloomy November day to awake the drowsy spirit and relive the authentic values of the early underground DIY culture.