Yesterday I came home to a package from Japan containing something I’ve waited nearly fifteen years to get my hands on: the last few Gauze LPs I do not own. These records were just reissued on vinyl by the label XXX. For most of these slabs of wax, this is the first official repressing, approved by the band, they have gotten in thirty years. I have spent the last day spinning them relentlessly and trying to sum up why these LPs are just so important. It isn’t just the particular ferocity that Gauze has been sonically assaulting us with for nearly forty years. It’s not just the speed. It’s not how ahead of its time their music was back in ’86 when they unleashed Equalizing Distort on our unsuspecting ears. It’s not just how innovative and weird Gauze’s sporadic releases continue to be. It’s not just the razor sharp precision with which the songs are played.
There is something else.
I’m probably romanticizing a legendary band from a far off country just a little bit. I am hardly alone in this. Punks the world over really love Gauze. We have spent a lot of money on original pressings of these records on discogs and eBay. We have scoured obscure zines and dark corners of the internet for any information we can find about these Japanese noise freaks since the internet became a thing. We’ve implored any of our friends lucky enough to see Gauze live to tell us just what it was like. We’ve been aching for another tour, any chance to see Gauze weave the brutal sonic magic that has been pummeling us for thirty-six years now up close.
A tour is unlikely. At least we have these records.
I think I love Gauze the same way I love their slow and heavy sonic opposites, Neurosis. Gauze have been out there making music that moves people across the world forever. They formed in 1981. That is literally my entire adult life. In 2008, I remember reading a review for their fifth LP somewhere, (which is the most shredding LP ever released by a band that had been playing for twenty-seven years at that point, by the way.). The reviewer commented how the band still manage to sound so sharp and urgent after having played together for nearly three decades all the while raising families and having jobs outside of punk. I am almost positive the reviewer mentioned some of the band members are even grandparents at this point. At that time, that just seemed so wild to me – grandparents playing punk. I still can think of few bands comprised of older punks juggling families and career responsibilities with such staying power. I’m talking bands that have never broken up or stopped playing music. Dead Moon and Neurosis come to mind, but that’s kind of it.
There is something ultimately special about a band playing hardcore punk into middle age. We are subculture known for burning people out. We live recklessly. We die young. We spawned the hopeless rallying cry “No Future!” over forty years ago. Here’s Gauze, in the future none of expected, still playing with all the passion, precision and seething contempt a lot of bands made up of people half their age couldn’t muster – still ahead of their time.
I don’t know a thing about playing music. I’m going purely on intuition and emotion here. And yeah, I’m romanticizing a bit. I said as much in the beginning of this piece. I just really love these records and we are lucky to have them. If you can still find copies, do yourself a favor and grab them.
Label in charge of the Gauze Reissues
Gauze live, early 80’s:
Gauze live, 1986:
Gauze live with Discharge during Discharge’s ill-fated Metal years in ’91 Check Shin and Fugu roughing up a bouncer trying to subdue an attempted stage diver while Hiko and Momorin don’t even stop playing at roughly 13:45 :
Gauze live in 1996. Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of their three US gigs:
Clip from Gauze’s twentieth anniversary gig, 2001:
Gauze playing their first gig after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. May, 2011. Unknown/new song. I asked someone to translate the chorus of this song for me. They told me it translates roughly to “We want to cry, but we cannot cry. We don’t have time. Check the resilience and joy reverberating through this room:
Gauze Gig, 2017: