By the time the underground cult sound of NYHC found itself in the post era it was already 10 years long in the tooth. While 1st generational hardcore descended into folklore, the scenes straight edge 2nd wave fell into its swan song with Gorilla Biscuits going on a farewell tour with a ‘super-group’ version of the band, Youth of Today recording and releasing their parting EP prophetically titled ‘Disengage’ while Judge disbanded amid show violence, a misunderstood imagery and a reputation that was becoming increasingly harder to live up to and would soon implode.
Though the NYC scene would not dissolve on a bloody mosh pit floor but enter an exciting experimental period that saw young veterans of the 2nd wave and an eclectic new crowd push the sound and challenge the psychology of what could be deemed hardcore… One of the architects of this transformative 90’s era would be Andy Guida behind the kit with one of the premiere outfits of the NYHC scene.
Unhurried ominous snare rolls tightly trundle there way into ‘Engine’ the first track of Supertouch’s Lp that would go against the grain of where the street genre was middling and produce an unapologetic album that loudly praised its vehement desire for hard alt rock.
Part of Hardcore’s complicated history is filled with its great many groups disbanding and/or changing members as quickly as a half minute fast song from 1983. Whether amicable or in disharmony a lot of the influential bands would have a rotating line up that in a small scene plays out like a psychotic venn diagram of revolving singers and musicians. Supertouch was no different and by the early half of the 90’s the original ‘Earth is Flat’ line up would be altered with drummer Andy Guida no longer actively involved with the group.
For some it’s a long walk from behind the drum kick to the mic stand though for Andy it was an easy stride – with BLASTING SERENE he shows himself to be more than a drummer as he continues his quest for pure ‘heavy rock’ in the face of today’s indie-synth pop and millennial hardcore.
In his debut solo effort he emerges as a solid singer/songwriter producing a heavy hitter with his first full length ‘Radiate’. Taking on vocals, guitar and drum roles for this album Andy Guida enlists Orlando Arce from the avant post hardcore outfit Stillsuit on lead guitar and Lou Medina who held the back beat for Cold Front, All Out War and Breakdown on the bass.
With both guitarists contributing to compositions, the two East Coast hardcore figures show themselves to be disciples of rock and its many divisions curiously rousing appropriations of melody and rhythm.
The weirdly peaceful ‘Home’ opens the album. Bright chords intermittently ring out while vocalizing guitar leads seem to warp as if put through a ‘talk-box’ effect adding a restlessness. A short verse hangs onto a light high hat cymbal accent, giving way to minimalist almost primitive rhythmic bashes for a chorus that hits with a latter J. Spacemen/Spiritualized air to the melody – commixing blues and pop heartbreakingly. Circling back with a militarized snare roll adding more focus to the verses Lou Medina delivers a great melodic bass run that picks up the instrumentation nicely. The song plays out uncluttered ending with instruments winding down their melodies coolly.
We’re led down further merrily, merrily down the surrealistic stream with ‘He Went Off’ a delicate jazz composition that gives its attention to atmosphere and hushed tones. Complimented with a reoccurring hypnotic guitar lead by Orlando that pushes the song dreamily along with Guidas vocals resonating with a 1960’s Donovan pop-ism to it that carries the melody to a meditative place. Its during the songs break that a slight push on volume decibel enters the picture though it doesn’t disturb the setting its created. The album is very rhythm friendly with Guida reminding listeners of his 90’s post hardcore contributions to ‘The Earth is Flat’ with beats that stray from the cliché and seem to initiate great songs like a power riff.
‘Friend in the Paper’ puts a catchy drum syncopation in the forefront, carrying a complex story that deals with the subject of mental health when it hits close to home. Using a traditional song writing form the lyrical content seems to be lifted off a current newspaper clipping. The verses mix the topical with the personal while the chorus crashes with an abbreviated drum groove of stops and a snare beat that’s parallel with heavy guitars snapping us back to reality from a ‘hard to grasp’ situation singer and narrator tries to find meaning to.
𝐵𝐿𝐴𝑆𝑇𝐼𝑁𝐺 𝑆𝐸𝑅𝐸𝑁𝐸 𝑠𝑘𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑏𝑎𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑏𝑙𝑢𝑛𝑡 𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑐𝑒 𝑟𝑜𝑐𝑘𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑠𝑢𝑏𝑡𝑙𝑒 𝑚𝑜𝑜𝑑 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ 𝑤ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑔𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑝𝑠 𝑝𝑒𝑛𝑐ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑖𝑡𝑠 𝑖𝑛𝑐𝑙𝑢𝑠𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑣𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑔𝑎𝑟𝑑𝑒 𝑏𝑦 𝑎𝑑𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑡ℎ𝑦 𝑢𝑛𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑑𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑖𝑟 𝑟𝑜𝑐𝑘 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠.
‘Why Hide’ delivers noisy rock angst with a heavy chorus effect laced guitar inflicting a nasty dissonant six string groove summoning the guitar recklessness of Kurt Cobain with 2nd guitar hitting vulgar harmonics across the fret board. A haunting piano rhythm is pounded matching the loudness of the track at the same time adding a spectral beauty though by 3:30 the rock sounds subside to guitar eccentricity as warping tones approach us sonically building into an almost Autechre soundscape that is disquieting and uneasy.
Two instrumental tracks follow each other the pensive ‘I’m Not Ok’ floats translucently and has a bedroom demo melancholy feel to it while the eponymous titled track ‘Blasting Serene’ tips its hat to the cowboy cosmic funk from the maggot brain of the almighty Funkadelic.
A slow space groove with a circling vocal harmony that walks us into a curious unknown – a mixture of space consciousness, black field country and a beat that settles nicely behind the rhythm of the song.
An inward introspective LP brooding with highs and lows in its narrative, the musical style comprising ‘Radiate’ remains intense.
With an ominous start ‘Not That Good’ gives a nod to the doom sounds of Black Sabbath as the intro plows heavy noise density. The song goes on the attack with sharp lyrics showing there teeth coarsely to distorted guitars, string hopping a spider blues run behind big solid drums banging out a hard rock bounce. Orlando’s biting lead bends compliment the rhythmic break stops before the onslaught of the verse returns like a monster truck riff – the songs aftermath settles with manic sounds of the city burrowing into the listeners subconscious fluidly leading us to the following track.
‘What Have You Done’ forebodingly unfolds with a minor-y tone. A warm chorus effect on the vocals and minimalist tribal drum hits hang the song on the fringe of disquietude finally opening like a poorly healed wound after the decried “What have you done?” chorus echoes hauntingly in the vain of Layne Staley of Alice in Chains mournfully over a musical break that crackles with a fuzz drenched melodic bass run and circling guitar chords that are seen through ’til there cathartic end.
More than a drummer playing musical chairs squirreling away compositions Andy Guida with BLASTING SERENE cohorts Orlando Arce and Lou Medina – forgo the formulated as they experiment with Jekll and Hyde personas of eerie minimalist instrumentation to big upbeat rock built for an army of Marshall Stack amplifiers. Though the album becomes more than the sum of its sounds. Bittersweet in some of its lyrical content, Andy Guida does not shy away from any of the rifts, regrets or tragedies. Much has happened between 1990 and 2020 and ‘Radiate’ in its entirety see’s Guida being as honest as one can be on an album with friendships, personal goals, adulthood and the dysfunctional family that is the NYHC Scene.