You’ve probably had this happen a few times: you hear a song by an artist you’ve not heard much of (if anything); you buy the record the song is on; you get disappointed and throw the album back into the closet — and then months later you dig it out again and hear things you completely missed the first time. Chalk a lot of that up to misfired expectations: what you wanted was a whole record like that song, or something equally misguided. It took time for your ears to clear, to be able to hear the thing for what it is and nothing else.
As you can imagine by now, that’s more or less what happened with me and Mark Pistel’s self-titled solo album. Pistel I first encountered as one of the prime instigators behind Consolidated, a Bay Area rap outfit who leaned so far to the left they were in danger of falling right over. Consolidated were both dotty and spotty — they had politics that made Crass seem downright moderate — but when they were good they were outstanding, and I credit Pistel for being most of the reason why. He later became a producer in his own right and a frequent collaborator with Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto — and in fact that’s how I ended up discovering his solo disc, via the Dangers remix of one of its songs: “Skin Up, Rolled Material (Jack Dangers Remix)”. Read more