4th Fest: Killer instinct

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Orlando duo 1991 are uniquely suited to announce this weekend's holiday proceedings: Pop in their new self-titled cassette and what you hear is freedom; specifically, "Total Fucking Freedom" — which, besides being the title of the second song, is an apt description of their feral punk glory.

Friends since middle school and bandmates since high school, 20-year-old guitarist Dylan Foeller and drummer Kevin Beasley, 21, started 1991 as a teasing response to their friends' grindcore bands.

"We were in indie bands, just kind of shoegaze-y stuff," says Foeller. "And then we were just like, ‘Let's start a really heavy band 'cause it'll be kind of funny.' For probably, like, two or three years we only just had two songs."

But after being invited by friend and local musician Sam Metro to play a set at 2008's I-4 Fest, they caught the attention of Post Records head Chris Cucci and became much more than a high-school lark. Produced by Happy Valley's Darin Hughes, their 10-song debut, released on Post, blasts forth like exploding shards of rock rawness. Untrained, unchained, but bursting at the seams with maximum deliverance, their garage punk kicks up an electrifyingly lo-fi racket with cycles of compression and release that are unconventional, strangely organic and wildly spontaneous.

The jolting directness of their musical impact is no surprise considering their creative process. After some stuttered attempts to articulate it, Foeller finally says, "I just wanna rip off Dinosaur Jr. And we just try to have a sludge or stoner part for every one of our songs 'cause that's just so `much` fun to play."

After Foeller writes the guitar parts, Beasley says, "He'll show me and then I'll play something very similar to it on drums. I really love a lot of electronic music. So a lot of weird, strange beats I find just appeal to me. And plus, not actually knowing how to play drums formally, I have an abstract sense of how to play. I have a weird way of playing because I don't really know what I'm doing."

Ultimately, what 1991's music says in both a representative and powerfully sonic way is that this is the sound of liberation — from prescription, plan or even work ethic. It's a motivational purity uncorrupted by boundary, ambition or urgency.

"There's a lot of bands who will write songs and slave away at them — work, practice, not have fun doing it," says Beasley. "It's more of a chore and more miserable to do. With Dylan and I, we don't do anything we don't like. We only do what we wanna do. So, in a sense, there is that explosiveness or that freedom. Neither one of us are afraid to say to each other, ‘Hey, this sucks, it's not working out.' We didn't have to do this. We didn't have to make that tape."

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About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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