Despite technically being a business for the past 30 years, Dischord Records has done a pretty good job at not over-commodifying the music they release through the label. Yes, they sell the music they release and helped pay for a touring van or two, but they’ve also kept their prices well below the music industry’s operating level and have left the promotion and touring aspect to the individual band. Sometimes it works beautifully (as was the case with Fugazi) but other times, it means that certain Dischord bands have to put the music on the back burner to pay for that little thing called life and all that it encompasses.
I can’t say for certain if this was the case with Medications, but it’s been five years since their last full-length release, and I’m led to believe that life and bills got in the way of the band a little more than expected.
Medications formed in 2003 out of the ashes of another Dischord act, Faraquet. Comprised of Chad Molter, Devin Ocampo and Jeff Boswell, Faraquet played an angular and tense mix of DC math rock that sometimes borrowed from King Crimson. As is the case with almost every Dischord band in existence, Faraquet lasted a handful of years and called it a day. But Ocampo and Molter soldiered on, reforming under the Medications moniker with drummer Andrew Becker.
The original line-up of Medications released an EP, followed shortly after by the severely underrated ‘Your Favorite People All In One Place‘ in 2005. Then something happened. Faraquet reformed for some shows and released a compilation of earlier material, in between Ocampo and Molter joining forces with both Beauty Pill and Mary Timony. Becker left the band, and Medications seemed to get put on hold. Life had gotten in the way of the band a little more than expected.
But after a break, Ocampo and Molter managed to return to Medications, releasing ‘Completely Removed‘ on April 20, 2010, and the time away from the music they write seems to have produced a different band. The prog-infused math-i-ness of their earlier releases is still there, but it’s juxtaposed against a lighter pop sensibility that has escaped earlier Medications releases. Recorded in Ocampo’s home studio, Molter and Ocampo chose not to replace their former drummer, handling most of the instrumentation on their own (with the addition of Mark Cisneros, who plays keys and clarinet.) The result of the new approach, upon first listening, is a more melodic and more direct Medications. But that approach is layered, multi-faceted and more succinct than previous releases. In simpler terms, shorter songs, more pop sensibilities, less anger, awesome guitar sounds.
‘Completely Removed’ is available now, and Medications is on tour in support of the album. The lesson here is that life getting in the way of whatever you might be pursuing isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the long run. Take a break, regroup and don’t be afraid to try something new. Just be sure to let that one eager fan in New Jersey know why its taking so long.