How many great guitarists came out of US hardcore? The list is not long: Curt Kirkwood, Dr Know, East Bay Ray, Greg Ginn, Suicidal Tendencies’ Rocky George… and Bob Mould. When Bob Mould plugs in, something happens: a sonic/emotional totality is summoned, a moody beast of noise. Almost before he could play guitar he was stamping on his MXR Distortion + box, accelerating into his own world. By the time Hüsker Dü formed it was all there: the chorus-pedal tinfoil scream at the top of the sound, the gnashing, nasal clangour of his voice, and the speed in his system, jolting him around behind his Flying V. That was punk rock Bob, maelstrom Bob, fighting with Grant Hart’s cymbals for domination of the upper frequencies. His lyrics were open-ended, half-formed sometimes, mere rough portals for the presence. He has compared the experience of playing live with Hüsker Dü to being locked in the trunk of a car during a hailstorm. There was also folk-rock Bob, with those lovely influences bleeding through his sound: the interplanetary chatter of Roger McGuinn’s 12-string Rickenbacker — the music of the spheres, if all the spheres were triangles — and the heavy-gauge eloquence of Richard Thompson. Through the phases of his career and character, his right-there-ness as a guitarist has changed not a jot.
This week we will be paying tribute solo by solo, day by day, to Bob the player. Watch him rip, watch him burn. To celebrate the publication of his memoir See A Little Light (co-written with Michael Azerrad) Hilobrow presents… MOULDIANA.
James Parker and Tommy Valicenti, singer/guitarist with the Boston rock band Mount Peru, also co-wrote the series ANGUSONICS, which parsed the solos of AC/DC’s Angus Young.
READ other HiLobrow series: ANGUSONICS — the solos of Angus Young | ARTIST IN RESIDENCE — HiLobrow’s favorite artists | BICYCLE KICK | THE BOOK IS A WEAPON — a gallery | CABLEGATE COMIX | CECI EST UNE PIPE — a gallery | CHESS MATCH — a gallery | DE CONDIMENTIS — a world-secret-historical take on ketchup, mustard, relish, and more | DIPLOMACY — a world-conquest boardgame musical | DOTS AND DASHES — a gallery | DOUBLE EXPOSURE — the stratagems of Middlebrow | EGGHEAD — a gallery | EPIC WINS — our versions of epic poems | FILE X — a gallery | FITTING SHOES — famous literary footwear | GOUDOU GOUDOU — adventures in Haiti | KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM — 25 Jack Kirby panels | LATF HIPSTER | MERIT BADGES — earn ’em! | MOULDIANA — the solos of Bob Mould | PANTENE MEME — a found gallery | PHRENOLOGY — the insane origin of browism | PLUPERFECT PDA — time-traveling smartphones! | POP ARCANA — spelunking weird culture | REBOOTING MUSEUMS | ROPE-A-DOPE — boxing | SECRET PANEL —Silver Age comics’ double entendres | SHOCKING BLOCKING — cinematic blocking | SKRULLICISM | UKULELE HEROES