Washington, DC-based No Trend, which blazed its own trail with a surprisingly singular blend of new wave, punk, funk and country, is one of the latest bygone acts to get the reissue treatment from Touch and Go. The quintet's association with Lydia Lunch connected them with Touch and Go, which originally released Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex
in 1987. The band's refusal to pigeonhole itself and insistence on thumbing its nose at the rigidity of the contemporary DC hardcore scene made its music exciting, and even frightening, although it probably killed any shot at commercial success in the bargain. This willfully curious album is rightfully considered No Trend's finest effort, though at the time the band cultivated an antagonistic relationship with many of the audiences for whom it performed. There are absolutely no missteps here -- an amazing feat for a group so bent on innovative and, at time, downright arty songwriting.
Having shed much of the heavy PIL and Flipper influences that colored its earlier work, No Trend peppered its swan song with compositions that are simply odd, both musically and lyrically. The handbell-laden rocker "Without Me" climaxes with vocalist Clif Ontengo repeatedly screaming "It's getting worse every day", amid squalls of sax and guitar riffs. "There's a dead animal on my string!", Ontengo screams at the beginning of the equally schizoid and apoplectic "Fried Reality". Melodic sax lines counterpoint the song's short, high wails of violin. The dreamy "Choc-o-jet", with lyrics co-written by Lunch, rocks with sax-driven swing within a fog of rich bell tones. "Freak" boasts processed vocals that are absolutely unsettling. Optimistic album closer "Bel-Pre Rising" is a jazzy instrumental that recalls Grover Washington, Jr, while the funkified "Overweight Baby Boom Critter" sounds about as close to Fishbone as you can get without actually being Fishbone.
Folks who don't check out this band-gone-by will forfeit a compelling listen; Tritonian Nash-Vegas Polyester Complex's unpredictability and broad musical palette make it a minor classic. If only more contemporary bands were this adventurous.