Rudimentary Peni - Cacophony (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Rudimentary Peni

Cacophony (1987)

Outer Himalayan

Cacophony is the exact point where genius meets madness. Recorded during a time period when lead vocalist/guitarist Nick Blinko was descending into a psychosis that would require seven years of confinement, Rudimentary Peni's second album shows nearly unparalleled mixture of insanity and creativity, with both advancing the other.

Cacophony had some precedent. Although Rudimentary Peni started out under the anarcho-punk banner with their first two EPs, even those releases mixed political skewering with macabre material. By the time of their first LP, Death Church, the band had nearly abandoned direct political commentary and used gothic and ghastly metaphors as descriptors of the human condition. Equally, they had berserk tracks which seemingly made no sense whatsoever, such as "Martian Church," which featured the sole refrain "When you are a martian church!" (What does that even mean?)

However, while madness was flirted with on Death Church, four years later Cacophony WAS madness. By this time, Blinko was already struggling with insanity and he focused his attention on the literary works of H.P. Lovecraft. Throughout its 30 tracks, Blinko warps Lovecraft's visions of the alien and infernal into his own vision, sometimes recreating Lovecraft's scenes of horror, sometime inserting himself into them and sometimes speaking through Lovecraft himself.

While Rudimentary Peni's earlier work was a sharped form of anarcho-punk bashing, 90-second songs jacked up with high speed and crushing guitar, Cacophony was ten fold as frantic. Although there are 30 "songs," the tracks are mere movements, with many movements therein, meaning the album likely has about 50-60 "songs." Although the band's core crust/anarcho/hardcore bashing still forms the album's backbone (now whittled down to minute or 30-second snippets) the songs are woven together by abstract movements and sound effects, such as what sounds like 100 pairs of teeth chattering, worms slithering and even a contemporary critic of Lovecraft ranting about the futility of horror writing, which eventually descends in tone until he sounds like one of Lovecraft's own abysmal creatures.

Blinko's sheer ability of craftsmanship is what steers Cacophony into genius or shambles. While it is the literal definition of rambling, with discordant sections constantly layering and wiping out each other, Blinko's ability to merge the sections together into one continuous suite of frantic changes and horrific sounds makes the album nearly as listenable as any pop record, despite its bizarre and jolting nature. The songs might jump from section to section, but they are tight enough and distinct enough to pull the listener with them.

One of the most fascinating things about Cacophony is Blinko's self aware madness. While he would be confined against his will for a time due to his instability, here he seems to know exactly what a "sane" person would find shocking, and then exploits the sensitive area. Perhaps Blinko's ability to connect the sane with the insane shows that the wall between the two is only about 30 seconds think.