Thursday, February 02, 2012

Scorn on Earache 1992-1996

Question from C ( :

Hello, Dig. This question is in reference to a previous band on your roster,
Scorn. Scorn quickly became a favorite band of mine, unfortunately after the
closing of the band. While glancing at the wikipedia article during my
general exposure to the band, I noticed that it was stated that after the
release of 'Logghi Barroghi' Scorn parted ways with earache. My apologies
for the long intro; my question is as follows: Would it be possible for you
to go into the reasoning behind Scorn leaving Earache? I read this blog
quite regularly and I have yet to find the answer to this intriguing
question. I do realize that as you previously stated in a blog entry that
Earache was moving on from the Electronic scene and focusing your attention
back to Metal and it's various sub-genres. Would this be the basis for the
departing of Scorn? I thank you for your time and consideration.


Answer: Scorn mainman Mick Harris finally and officially closed the book on Scorn in November 2011, so if they became your favourites in the last 60 days, that's pretty bad timing dude, because they were around, on and off, for almost exactly 20 years. While on Earache Scorn released 5 albums and 4 EPs during a 4 year period, plus, I released Napalm Death records before that aswell. All in all, I spent around a decade supporting and promoting Mick's musical endeavours across two radically diverse genres. Napalm Death was successful, Scorn less so. It was either a gutsy move, or sheer stupidity, depending on your point of view, to quit the exploding death metal/grind scene he more or less helped create, to explore the abstract/dub/experimental scene as Scorn instead. During the decade he was on the label he invented and popularised two brand new genres of music - grindcore and (proto)dubstep - that's not too shabby is it?

If you are seeking some kind of juicy story to explain the end of Scorn on Earache, you're out of luck. The reality is far more mundane - after a decade of dwindling sales, interest just kind of fizzled out and it became obvious it was time for everyone to move on.

Minimalist, abstract, bass-heavy, dirty electronic music was simply not a thriving scene at that time. Scorn had nothing in common with the commercial dance scene which was booming in UK clubs by the mid-90s, nor did it fit in with the college/hipster crowd who were all into Apex Twin /Warp records. If anything Scorn was nearest to the then underground jungle/drum & bass scene which was mostly promoted on pirate radio and at illegal raves. I mentioned in a previous blog posting how Earache found it difficult to market and promote this music, we are a Rock/Metal label after all.

Here's 'Nut' from Scorn's final CD for the label, 1996's 'Logghi Barogghi'- so named after Mick overheard an American tourist mispronounce the town of Loughborough, which he thought hilarious.

In 1997 Scorn released the follow up album 'Zander' for new label Invisible Records (label of Martin Atkins, ex-Pil & NIN drummer). In my opinion the opening song Twitcher displayed the most vicious bass sound for over a decade, until the likes of modern-day dub-step producers like Skream came along. It was so far ahead of its time, its positively scary. Plug your sub-woofers in and watch your walls crumble to this:

If you fancy more bass-quakers, heres my faves in a Spotify playlist
WARNING: may damage your audio equipment and/or hearing!


Anonymous said...

Yes, bad timing indeed. I could kick myself for not discovering them sooner! I appreciate the answer.

My local FYE store was going out of business and I managed to come across three scorn albums - White Irises Blind, Vae Solis and Gyral. Not to mention scouring the net and ordering the Evanescence and the Ellipsis duel pack. They still sound amazingly fresh to this very day.


Anonymous said...

Sad to hear that Scorn has finally come to an end.

I discovered Scorn through the drummer in my band in the early 90's. I was a metalhead through and through and that point and hearing music that embodied the spirit of metal, but expressed via electronic music was a big eye opener to me.

Gyral and Evanesence and among my favourite albums of all time, I still listen to them often and as they provided the soundtrack to my 20's I have lots of happy and messed up memories of them.

Perhaps the biggest shame in all of this is how obscure Scorn is. As mentioned previously, some of it is staggeringly ahead of it's time.

Wes said...

Evanescence was a fuckin' masterpiece. I think what really did Scorn in was the departure of Nic Bullen (spelling?) and the vocals. All the following records had some cool stuff but they all sounded the same and it's no surprise that interest eventually faded.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember an evil d&b tune, amen breaks and nasty bass. Not sure if im remembering incorrectly but sure a friend had it on a vinyl only release on earache, multipul 12's. i may be remembering nonsense but i had it on a tape which sadly died

Cernunnos said...

Scorn actually seems to have a decent following among dubstep fans (not the shitty post-Skrillex variety, but those who like Vex'd, Loefah, Digital Mystikz, etc.) Unfortunately, Mick didn't pay their affection in kind, as evidenced by his all caps rants on Justin Broadrick's Avalanche website message boards. He had some pretty unkind things to say about the dubstep scene despite the fact that his last two albums, Stealth and Refuse; Start Fires were even closer to that genre than his '90s output with Scorn. He would have sounded perfect in a mix alongside Vex'd and Loefah. Apparently he also got dicked over by some music industry people after he appeared on Mary Ann Hobbs' show.

In any case, anyone who likes Scorn ought to check out both Vex'd records as well, as they are also some pretty heavy, dark thuds of industrial-infused dub music, though a slightly more dance-able than Scorn. There's also a great deal of atmospheric similarities between Scorn and a lot of the late '90s "tech-step" dark drum n bass scene, best exemplified by the No U Turn compilation Torque, although it has different drum syncopation and faster breakbeats.

Anonymous said...

the evil drum n bass tune was probably PCM Remix of The End which was off the remix album Ellipsis - it was released on a box set of 6 x 12"s

Anonymous said...

The home of dubstep is not croydon its birmingham and swindon, both mick and jack dangers (meat beat manifesto) are the godfathers of that sound, im not sure if mick and jack know each other but in the 90s it seemed to be they were egging each other on creatively.