One of the earliest and most prolific industrial noise bands, Controlled Bleeding — generally a trio led by multi-instrumentalist/singer Paul Lemos, who also teaches high school English — first existed in Boston in the mid-’70s but was reconvened in the New York City suburb of Massapequa, Long Island and began releasing cassettes of remarkable audio brutality around the turn of the decade. (The debut 7-inch, by an otherwise unrecorded incarnation of Controlled Bleeding, is in an entirely different vein; there’s also a 1979 live-at-CBGB album by Body Sink, which was another early version of the band. Before the Quiet compiles the band’s pre-industrial existence, with tracks from 1978 to 1982.) Since releasing the abrasive, aggressive and amateurish Knees and Bones in 1983, Lemos has never looked back.
He has, however, looked sideways a few times. After several LPs of unmitigated aggression, the group began (around Between Tides) to explore quieter forms of atmosphere; by the point of their first domestic LP, the nearly vocal-less Core, the trio (Lemos, drummer Joe Papa and keyboardist Chris Moriarty) had developed into a sophisticated and intriguingly accessible outfit, capable of mixing semi-classical and semi-jazzy instrumentals with sepulchral pseudo-operatics and driving rock dynamism.
Despite this positive new direction, Controlled Bleeding didn’t lose its taste for industrial noise, as demonstrated by “Crack the Body,” the first of four Songs from the Grinding Wall. But that’s only one facet of the EP, a mixed platter of considerable stylistic depth.
Leaving behind Core‘s ambient expeditions, Trudge is nonetheless diverse and extraordinarily entertaining, with substantial melodies and arrangements that are strong but rarely hyper-intense. The album covers a lot of ground: except for the typical profanity-laced lyrics about killing women and crushing lives (high school English, huh?), “Crimes of the Body” is perfectly delightful dancefloor techno-rock with a dramatic bridge. “The Fodder Song,” previously issued as a 12-inch single, is a piledriver with growly vocals; “Healing Time” could be the soundtrack of a medieval war movie.
Hog Floor is a five-year retrospective of rarities and unreleased material; the cassette and CD contain three bonus tracks.
Attempting to separate the band’s multiple personalities into clear-cut stylistic entities, Lemos and Moriarty launched Joined at the Head, a side project that is strictly for electronic club kids; the four-song EP offers orthodox Wax Trax! horrorshow noise, with distorted lyrics hissed/roared over simple, repetitive rhythm tracks.
Lemos has also assembled several compilations of other bands under the Dry Lungs title and released collaborative albums under other names.