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Trauma Harness Ten Years Of Trauma

Lumpy Records
18th August 2022

Michael's Pick

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Format Info

LP - black vinyl

We’re still lost in the Mid-West though, so don’t go anywhere bub. On the ever-reliable Lumpy Records Trauma Harness were totally knew to us but when that label puts something out, specially when it looks as cool as this, you sit up and listen. 

From Belleville, Illinois, Trauma Harness are a trio that are exhuming the outer regions of Post-Punk from, say ’79 onwards, like gravediggers not content to settle in one genre corpse. Instead they’re building a highly affecting music with guitars dripping in Goth-tinged effects and a hyperactive drummer who still manages to just about play the Post-Punk game with 16-beats in the almost Keith Moon-style lead drumming style. 

Beginning in 2011, Trauma Harness have that world-building thing down, like the three guys took a welder to their cold storage tank and sealed themselves in with a bunch of records and equipment to create a totally unique language. Ten Years Of Trauma is a collection of tracks taken from the group’s 11 year career compiled by Lumpy’s Martin and it’s a bewilderingly brilliant collection. You can hear everything from *deep breath* The Cure, Minimal Man, Diat, Seivehead, Total Control, Magazine, Women, Killing Joke, small town desperation, urban gloom, kicking trash about the doughnut shop parking lot, Mid-West sunsets while blazing out your mind on too-strong weed, Television Personalities, even irony-free takes on British synth pop (a cover of Heaven’s Magic’s Cathy Don’t Go) that comes across sounding like Go-Kart Mozart.

At the heart of this inelegantly wasted punk adjacent emotional slurry is a little kernel of emotion, some might call it a heart, which sets this band apart. A close analogy might be Melbourne’s Total Control who mix up media, can be arch and layered with meaning but at the core of every track and idea there’s definitely some pain being worked through. As we drift into compilation the Magazine style guitar lines give way to glacial synth cold waves, the hiss of rain on The Serpentine That Stole The Light showing a band restless to always try something new before exploding out in a punk smash riddled with we might not make it but we’re gonna try heartfelt pleading. On Northern Lights they touch on a Noise Pop bordering on Indie, with a drum machine, dual guitar attack and succinctly British sounding accent to their nasal vocals. Seriously, what is it about the Mid-West punk singers, it’s like they never quite grow up right. Long may it continue.

By the end of the compilation the symbiosis between electronics and guitars reaches a New Order-ish fever pitch with Grove by Grove, all sweeping synths and chugging Peter Hook basslines navigating some cavernous reverb drums. I can’t tell exactly the timeline of the compilation but you can definitely see the evolution. By this point the group have kept this innate sense of drama in the songwriting while expertly dragging in all these classic British and Oz post-punk influences into the stew and wow, what a band. Have they really stopped? If anything this is testament to band’s just doing it for the love, no real care if they get championed by the global punk squatiratti (I just made that up) or not. They mean it.