I am a big APC and TooL fan, so when I heard the chaps were going to knock out a covers album I was a bit hesitant.
What if a band you really like starts churning out cheesy covers in a weird, referential, “we're all rock gods together” kind of way?
Well, no worries on that front: this album surpassed my expectations, both musically and politically, and has been played non-stop at the PN office for the past couple of weeks.
Running up to the US election APC announced the release of this compilation of tunes about “peace, love and greed” and at the same time adopted the peace (ND) symbol for the album art and their website.
As a multi-platinum group with broad international appeal, it was good to see them promoting political discussions on such big themes.
Musically this is quite a sombre affair, with 12 tracks of which 10 are covers. From Marvin Gaye's What's Going On to Crucifix's Annihilation (a personal favourite due to early CRASS experiences), via an acappella version of Joni Mitchell's Fiddle and the Drum, John Lennon's Imagine and Memphis Minnie/Zeppelin's When the Levee Breaks, the covers manage to be both cinematic and subdued in quality.
String and piano arrangements, eastern influences and complex harmonies somehow combine to create a stripped and at times emotionally raw experience.
Guitarist Billy Howerdel has called it an album that is 51% awareness-raising and 49% protest songs, all of which manage to convey both a deep sadness and a certain optimism. The two new APC tracks are Passive and a fantastically dark, industrial reworking of their own excellent anti-war track Pet (taken from the alum 13th Step and relabelled Counting Bodies Like Sheep).
Videos for their version of Lennon's Imagine and Counting Bodies, plus several of the album's tracks are available for free download at http://www.aperfectcircle.com