The material on Medication's "Judgement Day" EP is miles past anything on the "This Town" LP that preceeded it, which isn't to say that the songs were recorded all fancy or anything. The overall sound is still fairly sparse and echo-y, and you can still hear stuff that sounds like someone bumping into the tape machine, or something else hitting the floor in the background... which is pretty great, actually, because it lends even more to the sense that this is just someone who sat down in a room in front of a microphone and wants to tell you something. I think the only song here that has a strong similarity to anything on "This Town" is the title track, "Judgement Day"; other than that, the performances seem to be on a much different level. I used to think that songs like "Your Heart" and "Don't Die" pretty much summed up "bleak", but songs like "Factory Made", "Rise/Sink", and "Whore" make the previous record seem like a bunch of jangly pop songs in comparison-- I mean, maybe "Farewell Letter" was similar, but that's about it.
There's probably a hundred things that I like about this record, but the way that the first half of the record fits together is particularly amazing. The first track, "Intro", is made up of 25 seconds' worth of throbbing noises, stabbing like a pulse and leading directly into "Factory Made", which undoubtedly is the centerpiece of this record. "Factory Made" carries a gentle, loping stride, yet it's also tightly-wound and mechanized, like an old watch. Mikey's voice carries as if he's way off on the other side of an abandoned building, sounding resigned yet defiant: "I was factory made, from spare parts/Got half a brain but twice the heart." Then the mournful "When I'm Gone" follows, appearing sad and wistful for about a full minute-- "Why don't you just think about all the things you could've had/Had you not known me"-- before breaking up into a sudden wash of furiously strummed guitar noises. When listened to as one long piece, the effect of all three tracks put together is stunning. He's not just writing songs here, he's making up whole scripts using sound and rhythm.
I'd have a hard time finding something to compare this record to, unless it would be Jandek or Pink Reason, except that I haven't listened to enough of either of those two to know the difference. I seem to be listening to a lot of blissed-out stuff like Disappears and Blank Realm lately, moreso than the usual rock stuff, and "Judgement Day" fights right in with those listening habits. Sacred Bones made 50 copies of this 12" as a special edition, fitted inside a white envelope with a red wax seal; my copy is #15, but I checked the Sacred Bones web site the other day and it seems like they're all gone. Either way, the record comes with a free download, though the track I'm posting here is my own vinyl rip.