Fugazi: Guy Picciotto, Ian MacKaye (vocals, guitar); Joe Lally (vocals, bass); Brendan Canty (drums).
Personnel: Guy Picciotto (vocals, guitar, clarinet, percussion); Ian MacKaye (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards); Joe Lally (vocals); Brendan Canty (melodica, drums).
Audio Mixer: Fugazi.
Photographers: Jem Cohen; Guy Picciotto.
Since almost nothing about Washington D.C.'s Fugazi is conventional, it makes perfect sense that their first "career-spanning" compilation album is largely made up of demos and unreleased tracks. Ostensibly the soundtrack for Jem Cohen's documentary, INSTRUMENT, the album is a glimpse into the creative process of one of punk's most adventurous and forward-thinking bands. The material stems from the 10 years between 1988 and '98 and, aside from some demo versions of songs that appeared in finished versions on 1998's END HITS, is largely composed of unreleased music.
Fans who know Fugazi only from intense, tightly wound post-hardcore like their debut's anthem "Waiting Room" will be astonished by the stylistic breadth of INSTRUMENT. Types of songs never before expected of the band make appearances here, like Ian Makaye's poignant piano ballad, "I'm So Tired," and the minor keyboard funk of "Afterthought." Even the songs that appeared on albums, like "Arpeggiator" and "Pink Frosty," take on new raw life in demo form, as much sketches as songs. As an album, INSTRUMENT does feel like something unfinished, but as an accompaniment to a film that chronicles a restlessly creative band's philosophy and working process, it's a vital document.
Spin (8/99, p.155) - 8 (out of 10) - "...they've unexpectedly reconstructed their history to become the rock'n'dub band of their dreams. INSTRUMENT is...the soundtrack to the Fugazi rockumentary....loud and clear as ever."
CMJ (5/24/99, p.26) - "...Collecting 18 surprisingly ambient, previously unreleased Fugazi demos and practice tapes, the record...span[s] the last ten years of the band's existence....INSTRUMENT is Fugazi's most focused attempt at mellowness and subtlety..."
Melody Maker (4/10/99, p.36) - 4 1/2 stars (out of 5) - "...A wonderful band indeed..."
NME (Magazine) (5/1/99, p.41) - "...Fugazi rework old songs, try out piano ballads and even indulge in the odd joke, emerging sounder than ever..."