How many times has an album amongst the library of a band of epic proportion been almost forgotten about? So overshadowed by the polished work of later Smashing Pumpkins records, both Pisces Iscariot
and the debut Gish
have been left out of the sound that soon became the signature nineties revolution upon itself, and proved to be nothing more than totally average grunge rocking in Gish's case. But since when was that a bad thing? Instead of focusing on 'how many guitar overlaps can we cram into this song?' and 'does Billy's voice sound completely different and unique for the track at hand?' the band delves to their truest roots that had yet to evolve into '1979' which appeared on Gish.
Upon hearing this album, the reaction that should be expected is ultimate realization of the Smashing Pumpkin's sound. There is so much on this record that showcases how they became the modern SP and what means of music playing it took to get there. Their acclaimed sophmore release was defenitely good, but was much more all over the place than this record. Pisces
is a more controlled and formulaic album than Siamese Dream
was. Pisces Iscariot
is a story of four musicians who told the Grunge God of that generation that they'd obey his commandments despite their obvious lack of respect for him in the years beforehand and produce a record worthy of the era. Little did this God know, they all had something great under their sleeves. And good thing they did, or we may have never heard the experimental epic Mellon Collie
if not for the breakthrough sound of their third studio album, the current subject at hand.
Now what this album truly became was a musical embodiment of past and future Smashing Pumpkins, with the pop-cultural sound of the present going on on the outside to offer to the people what they wanted to hear. Dream
must have come as a bit an alarming wake-up call to the people that introduced them to what modern rock from that day forward would soundlike. There shall be no more one hit dance wonders of the eighties, the trashy garage sound will not last as long as people think and somebody had to make music that would eventually open up to make so many new bands that would follow that sound that Siamese Dream
introduced, and produce modern alternative. So if you have not yet realized the sheer power that album contains, and the unlimited amount of influence upon rock these days you should take a listen. Put down OK Computer, drop American Idiot, and relieve yourself of all your indie records and discover Siamese Dream.
That my friends is what grew the branch that is today's alternative music. So what does all this have to do with Pisces? Well, all of the SP albums have a special place in the band's history, and all were influential to some extent. Think of SD as the Moses of the nineties, and PI as your ten commandments. Pisces
became the rulebook to describe and explain in great detail to all of the aspiring musicians willing to follow Corgan and his mighty knights through the fray of grunge and pop to create a new music. That is the point of [i]Pisces Iscariot, when you speak of it on its scale of influence.
Influence isn't going to make you enjoy this particular album, however. What does this album offer to its audience eagerly awating satisfaction in front of the stage? Well, it sounds as though Billy got Kurt Cobain drunk one night and had his way with him, impregnated the man with his music and the mother died during delivery of such an immensely awesome kid. This kid grew up to have a little rebellious sister named Siamese Dream.
While she left home when Pisces was still in school, and created a mass plethora of revolutionary music, Pisces had been saving the best for last. The best was organized music which shared some qualities like clear organization, like these songs were actually written prior to everything and not jammed out on by Billy alone in his room overlapping twelve thousand times too many. Prime examples of this are 'Landslide', 'Whir', and 'Starla'. In these three tracks you can hear the pure effort put into the making of the songs to sound the way the band wanted
them to. Pisces Iscariot
is not a science experiment, its a math problem, and organized just like a breezy one. Yet still it manages to keep you on the page for a good hour.
Of course with a band like this...eventually Iha's guitarist A.D.D. kicks in and he starts to jam his heart out through his fingers. Grunge influenced its own slayer. Which is quite an interesting combination. On a song like 'Girl Named Sandoz' or 'Plume' you'll know immediately that SP was not totally unaware of their environment. These tracks combine the sound of grunge and their unique rebellious feel to create a sound of a beast escaping its pre-determined cage of critique and fan desire. They rock hard, and are the breed of SP song that provide the catch and not the dreamy feel to it. Those ballads are saved for other occasions as the raw moshable power of 'Hello Kitty Kat' takes the stage. So upbeat, so two-faced. These songs sound like two coats of paint on one wall: the orange paint, being the raw and angsty grunge sound, and the black paint covering up as much grunge as it can, and representing the new age. Like black is the new orange, something of that sort. Amazingly guitar driven.
Organization, moshing...and now we come to the classic SP sound of what you listen to sinking into your bed laying on your back in a black and blue room, your dank windows dripping away along with your happiness. Most of the truly clean, organized songs can come into play here. 'Blew Away' and 'Soothe' being the most powerful, emotion-filled, tear jerking songs on the album. I don't know what it is about 'Blew Away' but its making my eyes well up as I write this. Songs like this that are so innocent sounding with the nonchalant instrumental just flowing, blowing
in the wind across the city sidewalks and streets to meet up with your face, make your sad life happy for a split second, and just leave you behind as it continues on leading its life of smiles as you return to breaking down crying, as if all your problems and past arguements just come crashing from the sky onto your head. These are the songs that put that musical pressure feeling on you, that feeling you get when you listen to a sad song and think that you have to do something about your life. Billy Corgan can write some powerful stuff, and the rest of the band does strengthen it greatley, and these tracks become very much Corgan and Chamberlain masterpieces. Drums play an imperitive role in the ballads. James Iha and D'Arcy give the emptiness of emotion a spine and make them all listenable. Then they cry.
End has to come for all things, and as Pisces Iscariot
slowly rolls out of your life (it is a phenomenal recording, but doesn't offer as much replay value that you'd think...Pisces is a record for occasion and mood) and you move on, wiping the tears from your face and forgetting the stories in your head, it will stay solidified in the Smashing Pumpkins lineup as the food you prepared with the cookbook that was Siamese Dream.
Once you get used to hearing the band in this way you will no doubt become much more appreciative of them and open your ears to listen to the next part of the story, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
That's the beauty of the band. Their entire career is a folktale fit for the ages, and written so well as to attract an entirely new kind of music fan. They revolutionised modern rock, and Pisces Iscariot
Guitars/Vocals: Billy Corgan
Guitars: James Iha
Bass: D'Arcy Wretzky
Drums: Jimmy Chamberlain