City of Caterpillar
City of Caterpillar


1.0
awful

Review

by GeorgeCostanza USER (3 Reviews)
December 17th, 2010 | 173 replies | 9,749 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Do not bring your evil into my swamp.

15 of 51 thought this review was well written

PART I
A hypothetical dialogue between the SwampThing and the reviewer ffs; an exercise in musical and discursive counterpoint.

ffs: What is it that really makes an album a “classic”?
The Swamp Thing: It’s not what you think it is.

ffs: What pushes music over the boundary from being just an enjoyable listening experience to something deeper and far more meaningful?
The Swamp Thing: This is certain to be a profound and probing insight. By all means, enlighten me with your tedious banalysis.

ffs: Call it a ridiculous cliché if you want, but for me an album has to really…transcend music to become one of my true favourites.
The Swamp Thing: That’s a ridiculous cliché.

ffs: […Some nonsensical prattle about the bands Converge and Palehorse…] But all of this irrelevant nonsense aside, the thing which I’m sure you’re really interested in if you’ve read this far is: what about this album?
The Swamp Thing: I am a plant.

PART II
The Swamp Thing outlines the socio-historical derivation of the emo/screamo genre in general and the album City of Caterpillar in particular, starting from the beginning of recorded history.

Now this is an old story, and most probably you’ve all heard it by now. But it bears repeating. So if there still be those among you with ears enough to listen, with wits enough to think…hark, because I’m going to break this shit down for you:

1. In the beginning there was Society – or rather a number of individual barbaric societies. But societies nonetheless. After the rise of agriculture and domestication there came permanent settlements and the establishment of institutionalized government and religion. Rudimentary superstitions and crude animistic beliefs were elaborated and codified into religious dogma, and general maxims of behavior were written into law. Setting aside, for a moment, folk traditions of music and craftsmanship, it can be seen that Music (along with the rest of Art) was most closely tied to religious ritual at this point.

2. With the further development of society and the progressive secularization of state authority, the musical vocation became increasingly professionalized, drifting away from its subservient role within the Church. Musicians instead sought patronage from the landed aristocracy, writing frivolous little melodies to satisfy the vanity of the nobles.

3. But soon the temporal sovereignty of the Church was ended forever, the Royal Family was beheaded, and blood privileges were rendered anachronistic by the great French Revolution. With the glorious triumph of capitalism through primitive accumulation in the eighteenth century and the greater articulation of the division of labor, music began more than ever to exist for itself. This gave birth to the dictum of art pour l’art, and along with it an autonomous music. But in reality, of course, music more or less followed the fickle tastes of the grande bourgeoisie, slipping into dandyism and eclecticism toward the end of the nineteenth century.

4. Following the invention of the first devices for musical recording, which made possible the technical reproduction and serialization of sound, the music industry first came into being, along with the rest of the culture industry. While this put a new premium on perceived “originality” and individualism in musical creativity, in truth this represented only a further vulgarization of the art. Once meant for kings and high priests, music was now intended to merely satisfy the fancies of the lowest commoner, the swinish masses.

Anyway, many decades passed and a lot of shit happened. Jazz, blues, rock and roll, the folk revival, and psychedelic music – yeah, yeah, yeah. And then there came punk.

Punk rock tapped into the anger and discontent of a generation of British society that was fed up with the hippie message of peace and free love. It instead channeled its nihilistic fury against the boredom, disillusionment, and hypocrisies of the newly-dawning age of neoliberalism, railing against any and every traditional authority that stood in its path. But something was lost amidst this generalized annihilative rage: the personal feelings of heartbreak and loss, the tragic and lyrical dimension of music. These were looked upon by the punk movement with scorn and disgust. Such feelings were just cheap sentimentalism, romantic drivel…emotions that should have by now been drowned in the snot, spit, and liquid apathy of the punk Weltanschauung.

For those who still clung to these emotions, who had despite themselves absorbed the influence of punk rock, a new genre was born: emo (which was destined to go through its own series of mutations and transformations). This combined the rawness, incompetence, and heroic amateurism of punk rock with the personal oblivion of death, betrayal, and unrequited love. The sneering growl of punk rock vocals gradually gave way to hysterical shrieks, and the oversimplified three-powerchord patterns were replaced by calculated cacophony and more sophisticated harmonic dissonance. The aggressively brusque straightforwardness of punk lyrics, their studied stupidity, was exchanged for a more precious vocabulary and elaborate attempts at lyrical symbolism. All of a sudden emo began to wax poetic, trying to give itself the illusion of depth. The cracking voice that pierced through the fuzz of the guitars and bad production was seen as a testament to its authenticity, an expression of the genuine pathos that must underlie all of this chaos and ugliness. Predictably, such techniques were swiftly glamorized and soon became standard within the genre.

One of the bands that was pivotal for the establishment of the screamo sound was City of Caterpillar, best known for their self-titled 2002 album, after which they would soon split up. Needless to say, the early breakup of the band gave the group an air of tragedy – the feeling of unrealized possibilities – and this played no small part in enhancing their image in the collective memory of their fans. The next section will attempt to diagnose the underlying pathology of this group with reference to the album under review.

PART III
The Swamp Thing attempts to diagnose the psychopathology of City of Caterpillar through an excursus on πάθος.

For all of its supposed pathos, City of Caterpillar remains pathetic, even pathological. In fact, were it not for the incessant praise that’s repeatedly been lavished upon it, City of Caterpillar’s self-titled release would be unworthy of serious critical reflection. To even write a review for it, as if it deserved any consideration at all, would be to give it too much credit. But nevertheless, though in so doing I will have accorded the album a dignity unbefitting of its gracelessness, a few points must be addressed in order to set the record straight.

“A Heartfelt Reaction to Dissatisfaction” stems from a wounded narcissism, nothing more. But the pleasure principle has in this case already been far removed from its libidinal origin: erotic desire has been sublimated and transposed into emotional desire. As the song’s lyrics clearly indicate, the failure of another to satisfy the singer’s emotional needs and expectations leads to frustration. This is later replaced by feelings of jealousy tinged with bitterness: the question “How’s it feel to have such fools attracted to you?” is not meant to be answered. The emotionality of this whole scenario is overwrought, however, as these matters tend to be. Things would have been far simpler, and frankly more honest, if the frustrated desire actually were erotic. At least the Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” was about sex.

The band’s neurosis continues through “And You’re Wondering How a Top Floor Could Replace Heaven,” but from the opposite direction. This time it’s an externalization and petty exaggeration of the death drive, directed at anything and everything that crosses the singer’s path:

Waving your goodbyes with your plastic hands and century-old arctic kisses. And not a finger lifts till it all turns to shit and you all act like you’re impressed.

The caustic tone adopted in these lyrics is contrived and ridiculous, a faint shadow of the genuine acerbity that belonged to greater men like H.L. Mencken, in his famous writings on farmers. Of course, the faux thanatotic vitriol that City of Caterpillar bandies about in this song can be traced to another, more perverse, unconscious motive. Death, as clinical psychologists have known for ages, is the world’s greatest aphrodisiac. The erotic impulse that City of Caterpillar had effectively excised from itself (in a grandiose act of self-castration), is now resurrected in the form of simulated Death. The band, otherwise sexless and freakish, at this point regresses to the primitive self-satisfaction of an infantile erection, the cosmic hard-on of the newborn.

But it’s not the real deal; this Death was a farce. The final blow is never delivered. Death has instead performed a striptease and then has let the album suddenly end, leaving the listener with aural blue-balls. It’s a long buildup, with overdramatic gestures at those classic post-rock swells towards climax thrown in along the way, but this one never reaches orgasm. It’s almost like fucking a really ugly chick because she’s supposed to be more exciting and extreme, but halfway through you realize the whole thing is too disgusting, you go limp, and in the end you can’t even bring yourself to finish it.

So let there be no further confusion over this matter: City of Caterpillar is a pathetic excuse of an album. The fact that a number of listeners have become convinced that its songs convey torment and anguish of the sincerest variety is an insult to human intelligence – a scandal to Reason, lunatical topsyturvydom. We do indeed live in dark times, where that which is bad is called good and people read Adam Downer’s reviews without laughing at them. The sky is falling in. The stars, the stars.

PART IV
Answers to some outstanding questions

Q: And You’re Wondering How a Top Floor Could Replace Heaven[?]
A: Such an insipid thought has never crossed the mind of anyone, for it has long since been known that the land of milk and honey resides none other than in my stinking bog.

Q: When Was the Last Time We Painted Over the Blood on the Walls?
A: You’re not clever.

PART IV
The Swamp Thing calculates the album rating for City of Caterpillar’s self-titled album.

(u1 = (1+ ia) uxx + (1+ ic)u - (1+ id)|u|2u) × 0 [= the absolute musical value of emo/screamo music, or nil] + 1 [modifying for Sputnik’s 1-5 rating system] = 1


user ratings (636)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Cameron S. (5)
City of Caterpillar is perhaps one of the most viscerally satisfying and emotionally resonant albums...

ffs (5)
The soundtrack to every existential crisis you've ever felt....

Electric Ocean (4.5)
...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
GeorgeCostanza
December 17th 2010



196 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

thought i would give posting this another shot, now that my lists are staying up. tweaked it a bit in parts

anyway most of you have probably seen this already but i don't really see any good reason for the review not to be approved. legitimately engages the album in question and provides some helpful historical context

Josh D.
December 17th 2010



13967 Comments


Reported.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
December 17th 2010



30865 Comments


I liked you better before

Your new revolution is disturbingly boring

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

GeorgeCostanza
December 17th 2010



196 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

also shout out to ffs for his good review of this album. i pos'd it. hopefully this review provides a different perspective. and there is no revolution, Deviant, just a review and some much-needed hobby-crushing. gonna probably review the Twin Peaks soundtrack soon and some electronic music

Kris.
December 17th 2010



12145 Comments


ugh this bloated piece of shit again

GeorgeCostanza
December 17th 2010



196 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

yeah. again

moar lyk Shitty of Caterpillar iamrite

tombits
December 17th 2010



3469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

tl;dr neg

sniper
December 17th 2010



18936 Comments


A GEORGE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

bloc
December 17th 2010



34663 Comments


I like this George guy

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

Scoot
December 17th 2010



17677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of the greatest TV characters ever.

That said, this guy is not a funny guy.

Digging: Unjust - Glow

Scoot
December 17th 2010



17677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of the greatest TV characters ever.

That said, this guy is not a funny guy.

BigHans
December 17th 2010



26455 Comments


lol that anyone doubted GC was MJ. Wont listen to this. Pos'd.

Thane
December 17th 2010



2150 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

what tombits said.

i really dig george so pls don't use his name. next time you fuck off and come back call yourself stalin or some shit, sheesh.

americanmusicmachine
December 17th 2010



3953 Comments


Hey Mr. Swamp Thing. I almost bought that comic Mr. Alan Moore wrote about your life but instead I got the "The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Five Novels and One Story" book by Mr. Douglas Adams. Was this a good or bad decision? Should I have buyer's remorse?

GeorgeCostanza
December 17th 2010



196 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

thnx Hans brb gonna troll pos all your reviews

JustJoe
December 17th 2010



1399 Comments


I should give this album a listen, one of these days.

Maniac!
December 17th 2010



26246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I still need to get this

botb
December 17th 2010



9521 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

plugging math formulas into an album review: tell tale sign you're not as smart as your bloated ego thinks you are.

Josh D.
December 17th 2010



13967 Comments


Geometric proof that City of Caterpillar's City of Caterpillar is artistically worthless.

WoodLawn
December 17th 2010



134 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"It became very clear to me sitting out there today that every decision I've made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat - it's all been wrong. "

- George Costanza

Which I guess explains this review...



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