Much of the last decade was spent letting Enablers’ masterpiece, The Right Pivot, wash over and sink into the bones.
Quite simply, the San Francisco collective produced a masterpiece, joining the likes of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Skeleton Tree, Low’s Double Negative and Holy Sons’ Raw & Disfigured in the finest releases over the past 10 years.
In 2019 Zones followed and whilst probably not matching the sheer heroics of its predecessor, it remains a true Enablers oeuvre in every sense.
The guitar interplay between Joe Goldring and Kevin Thompson alongside the militant drumming from Sam Ospovat are a tangled bouquet of razor-wire, providing a spiky bed for poet/vocalist Pete Simonelli.
Simonelli is an unhinged hell-cat on heat; a specimen imbuing new vitality with unique, all-encompassing poeticism that illuminates the most sordid and marginalised aspects of everyday life. His whiskey-addled, white-knuckle delivery derives from the grimy nursery that spawned the likes of Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski.
Enablers simply wouldn’t be able to function the way they do without the organic telepathy between all members. Comparisons with post-hardcore touchstones, Slint, Rodan, and June Of 44, have always been hard to shake, but Simonelli’s involvement is more than enough for Enablers to stand alone as true originals.
While Zones and The Rightful Pivot saw Enablers at the summit of their creative arc, the sharp ascent began in 2006 with their second album, Output Negative Space. An album, in 2021, that celebrates its fifteen birthday, and, more importantly, marks ten years since the death of Enablers drummer, Joseph F Byrnes, who features prominently on this captivating release.
Originally released on Steve Von Till’s Neurot Recordings, Output Negative Space‘s reissue is set to arrive courtesy of London label, Human Worth.
Repackaged with a beautiful design by Lancashire & Somerset founder, David Hand – the label who has facilitated Enablers’ U.K. releases since 2008’s Tundra – pre-orders are available from today.
What better way to start the month of October than to talk about one of the great lost albums of the past two decades?
It all starts with Five O’Cock, Sundays. Dismantling the blues and bastardising them like no other, Simonelli’s concoction of vivid fever dream imagery begins here.
Up is like scrapping barbed wire along rusted iron, while the knotty blues mind fuckery of Oh Monk is like being strangled by the pub drunk after an misguided glance in their direction.
The overarching gloom of Mediterranean and the title track lighten up darkest corners of the world, honing in on the quiet/loud dynamics previously harnessed by the above-noted ’90s touchstones.
The metaphor-rich tale of For Jack: A Philippic is the kind of song that’s inspired by trash-filled dark alleys. If anything, it leans on the influences of the aforementioned master himself, Tom Waits, who incidentally would doff the cap to such a song.
Sudden Inspection sees Enablers trying their hand at atmospheric dream-rock, contaminating the space with grime and sheer scorn. Creatively, it’s a watershed moment. The kind of circuit breaker that would sanction the band to go on and write something as inspiring as the The Right Pivot‘s closing number, Enopolis.
Which leads into 1939 – a slowcore weep that, 15 years on, still stands as the most tender moment Enablers have committed to tape.
Again, with hindsight, the tumbling instrumentation of Ghosting is the fertile ground that Enablers would continue to cultivate where closing songs are concerned. It’s the space on all Enablers albums where contemplative composition is met by the listener to let all of their worries in the world disappear.
Simonelli’s unique ability to intersect art and existential dread is the kind that has influenced the likes of Von Till, Emma Ruth Rundle, and many others in the alternative metal pantheon. It can be argued that Enablers were the band to lead many others to this haunted world and revel in the gloom and torment.
While Enablers went onto produce their best work in the years that followed, it can’t be argued that the seeds were planted with Output Negative Space.