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SACCHARINE TRUST

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Saccharine Trust biography
SACCHARINE TRUST started as a punk rock band from California in 1980 by musicians Jack BREWER and Joe BAIZA, they were part of the hardcore punk scene along with bands like Black Flag, Minuteman and other SST groups. In 1981 they released their first EP Paganicons an 8 track EP including very short punk songs, but the years and line up changes made the group change their approach and style and by the mid 80's the band was definitely pushing the boundaries of punk rock like no other band has done, making them a very unique outfit in the scene. They started incorporating other styles to their music like jazz and avant garde including a saxophone to their sound, this fusion of styles resulted in two studio albums the 1984 Surviving You, Always and the 1986 We Became Snakes. The music has clear punk elements which are most notable in the vocals, the lead guitars played by BAIZA does not resemble the punk dirty, uncontrolled and loud riffing but is much more clearer and has a Frippian kind of playing top that with all kinds of jazz noodlings and you'll get the picture, sounds like a progier Rollins Band to me.

While moving in a few directions, every member saw a different musical path for the band and was pushing to get his ideas to take shape, so shortly after the release of their second album the band had broke up. They reunited again by BREWER and BAIZA and in 2001 have released a new album called The Great One Is Dead.

Saccharine Trust would appeal to anyone whose interested in checking out if punk and jazz goes together.

Written by Sagichim.

Saccharine Trust official website

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Pagan IconsPagan Icons
Sst Records 1996
Audio CD$8.35
$7.68 (used)
We Became SnakesWe Became Snakes
Sst Records 1996
Audio CD$12.00
$10.00 (used)
WorldbrokenWorldbroken
Sst Records 1997
Audio CD$7.80
$19.49 (used)
Past LivesPast Lives
Sst Records 1995
Audio CD$12.00
$19.84 (used)
Worldbroken by SACCHARINE TRUST (1997-03-04)Worldbroken by SACCHARINE TRUST (1997-03-04)
Sst Records
Audio CD$43.56
Pagan Icons by Saccharine Trust (1985-01-21)Pagan Icons by Saccharine Trust (1985-01-21)
Sst
Audio CD$37.30
Past Lives by Saccharine Trust (1995-04-16)Past Lives by Saccharine Trust (1995-04-16)
Sst Records
Audio CD$48.39
$543.75 (used)
Surviving You, Always [Vinyl]Surviving You, Always [Vinyl]
Sst Records 1999
Vinyl$299.90
$159.98 (used)
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We Became Snakes by Saccharine Trust (CD, Oct-1996, SST) USD $19.02 Buy It Now 3h 8m
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Saccharine Trust: Paganicons 1981 STT Records 12'' EP SST-006 (Rare) USD $54.59 Buy It Now 21 days
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SACCHARINE TRUST discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

SACCHARINE TRUST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.14 | 3 ratings
Surviving You, Always
1984
4.00 | 6 ratings
We Became Snakes
1986
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Great One Is Dead
2001

SACCHARINE TRUST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
Worldbroken
1985
0.00 | 0 ratings
Past Lives
1989

SACCHARINE TRUST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SACCHARINE TRUST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
The Sacramental Element
1987

SACCHARINE TRUST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.05 | 4 ratings
Paganicons
1981
0.00 | 0 ratings
Minutemen / Saccharine Trust - The Burning Brothel / My Heart Bleedz Pink Lemonade
2011

SACCHARINE TRUST Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Paganicons by SACCHARINE TRUST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1981
4.05 | 4 ratings

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Paganicons
Saccharine Trust Eclectic Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars An undisputed classic of LA punk, this sits as one of the first post hardcore records, and the start for one of the few bands to end up melding prog and punk. Saccharine Trust went for a rough, dark take on hardcore, much like what Flipper and Rites of Spring would eventually do to equally great effect, but ST also went for complex arrangements indebted to prog, which would only otherwise be matched by Greg Ginn's guitar work on Black Flag albums from "My War" on. Through the haze of the raw, cheap production rises a dour, angry pack of guitar, bass and drums, played proto-math, as Joaquin Brewer lays out his truth. Much like krautrock klassic "German Oak", the tinny production only adds to the effect of the jagged, crazed, pitch dark playing. Like Wire on "Pink Flag", the band almost always plays short bursts of experimental energy, their unique style getting thrown at an unsuspecting world in bite sized pieces. Everyone plays their part well, and we are left with a masterpiece of doubly experimental punk. There is a reason this launched the rest of post hardcore, the '80's half of post punk, Cardiacs, and the first emo, and it is the same reason this has long been a favourite of punks, music aficionados, and even Kurt Cobain: this is experimental, one of a kind, and excellent. Highly recommended to punks, pronk fans, and the adventurous.
 We Became Snakes by SACCHARINE TRUST album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.00 | 6 ratings

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We Became Snakes
Saccharine Trust Eclectic Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

4 stars The band's third full-length release was also their swan song; and a fine way to bow out too, bringing together the band's strengths into a sophisticated, thrilling, varied batch of tunes. The band's jazz inclinations, introduced on 1985's improvised Worldbroken, are solidified by the addition of a full time sax player with jazz chops (Steve Moss) and a new bassist who can really wail (Bob Fitzer). Tony Cicero, on drums since 1984's aggressive Surviving You, Always, shows how much he has grown as a player, with a really solid and understated mix of finesse and power that makes him the unsung hero of this album. Jack Brewer (vocals) shows his range as well, with some of the best lyrics of his career, and sing/speaking in a very wide range of voices; from screaming intensity (end of the title track) to winking sarcasm (Drugstore Logic), to actual singing (The Need), a plainspoken declaration of love (the concluding Belonging to October), to just not singing at all (the instrumental Frankie on a Pony). Joe Baiza (guitar) is the true star here, though, playing a lead/rhythm style that throws down blankets of strange chords and solos in strange scales over them, even as Brewer is weaving his verses and Fitzer is hitting every fret (or lack thereof... he plays fretless a lot too) on his instrument. The music is as colorful as the album cover.

The title track opens the album - very quietly at first, with free atmospheric interplay between bass, drums, and guitar. When the song begins proper, Brewer is in full flight, recreating the Garden of Eden in his own surreal poetic way, hitting a spine-tingling climax at the end of the track. "Drugstore Logic" is a funky little number with Brewer taking on the character of a pedophile or a drug dealer (take your pick). Again, Brewer ramps up the emotion, hitting a peak right at the end. "Frankie on a Pony" is next, a total jazz instrumental written by and featuring Baiza. Nice stuff, and for 9 pleasing minutes too. "The Need" concludes side one with a brief ballad, Brewer showing his melancholic, vulnerable side, like mid-period Swans.

Side two opens with "For Her While", a darkly rolling art rock masterpiece built around chords that I'm convinced Baiza made up himself. Somehow Fitzer finds a rockin' bass line to ground this dissonant track, and Moss (sax) makes significant contributions here too with a great solo. Brewer keeps his voice low and atmospheric, ceding the focus to the brilliant interplay of the band. "Effort to Waste II" is next, a remake of a song from their debut EP from 1981. The lyrics are the same, but the musical arrangement is completely overhauled, giving Fitzer and Moss another chance to dazzle on the fretless bass and tenor sax on this sleek and speedy tune. "The Redeemer" slows it down, giving Moss more room to do his thing on sax. Again, Brewer lays back, reciting his thing but giving the spotlight to the band. Next up is an odd one - "Longing for Ether" is built around a prog jazz groove, but contains two sets of lyrics - one recited by Joe Baiza in one speaker, the other recited by some guy named Gary Jacobelly in the other speaker. Cool beans. Finally we have the acoustic (!) ballad "Belonging to October" with guest accordion and harmonica, and Jack Brewer, the man who once screamed like an evangelist on nearly every song, actually confessing "I love you" without hint of irony in a very touching lyric. Somehow, a fitting way to end such a daring and unpredictable album.

This is the album that the prog fans will want to check out. If you like this and wouldn't mind hearing them do it more loudly, give Surviving You, Always a try. If you want more of their jazzy side, try the live improvised Worldbroken. Also, Joe Baiza, Steve Moss, and Bob Fitzer formed a new band called Universal Congress Of after this album, which further explores the jazzy directions taken on this album.

 Worldbroken by SACCHARINE TRUST album cover Live, 1985
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Worldbroken
Saccharine Trust Eclectic Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Saccharine Trust's second full-length album goes in a completely different direction from the manic avant-punk adrenaline rush of their prior work, instead focusing almost entirely on group improvisation. The album was recorded live (a record store appearance, I believe), and Minutemen bassist Mike Watt is standing in on bass; otherwise the lineup is the same as their prior album Surviving You, Always (1984).

Joe Baiza (guitar) proves himself not only a skilled player, but a deft improvisor, working with the sympathetic rhythm section to create relaxed, jazzy jams, over which Jack Brewer (vocals) recites poetry - very little if any screaming this time around, this album is a much mellower affair than what we'd been treated to in the past. There's really not a whole lot to distinguish one track from the next, each kind of fades in and out, suggesting the album tracks were edited and compiled from one long improvised performance. Pretty nice background music, to be honest. As improvised rock music, this is no King Crimson, but it's skillful and occasionally exciting.

Not an essential item in their catalog, and I rarely listen to it, but for prog listeners it's a lot more palatable than their punkier early albums. Poetry-and-jazz fans would probably like this one.

 Surviving You, Always by SACCHARINE TRUST album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.14 | 3 ratings

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Surviving You, Always
Saccharine Trust Eclectic Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars Saccharine Trust's debut full-length album introduces a new rhythm section (as will every one of their albums), providing a new context for the dramatic spoken/recited singing and lyrics of Jack Brewer, and the increasingly expert guitar work of Joe Baiza. This is a very aggressively avant-punk release characterized by longer, more elaborate song structures, with emphasis on sharply defined start/stop rhythms. Brewer sounds possessed during most of the album, completely inhabiting the darkly surreal and often Biblical lyrical world he has created. Baiza sounds like he's been practicing his guitar non-stop for the three years since their prior release (their debut EP Pagan Icons).

"The Giver Takes" is about as attention-grabbing and strong an opening track as I've ever heard, and possibly their best song. Brewer shouts through his poetic rant, in time with the crazy asymmetric syncopated riffs played in unison by the band. "Lot's Seed" and "Sunk" offer more of the same, before "Speak" brings us to a more manageable groove and tempo (but just barely). "Remnants" opens with an unaccompanied Jim Morrison-like shouted recitation/sermon (reminiscent of the "petition the Lord" speech from The Soft Parade, but MUCH more profane and crazed). "The Cat.Cracker" ends side one with a relaxing breather, a rare lead vocal by Joe Baiza, a soft recitation over a groovy bass-driven atmospheric instrumental. Sounds like something off the Minutemen's Double Nickels album, but stretched out to 4 minutes with some groovy soloing. A nice track, and a welcome break from Brewer's onslaught.

Side two eases us back in to the madness with the dark, slowly unfolding 6-minute "Our Discovery". The opening minutes sound huge and majestic, with multiple voice overdubs and large ringing chords soaring over a slow, melodic bass-driven beat. Wow, this sounds like Slint's Spiderland! The second part of the song, introduced by a long Brewer scream, shifts the song abruptly back into the breakneck pace of the first few tracks on the album. A cool transition, but I can't help but wish the opening section had lasted even longer, it's soooo sweet. "A Good Night's Bleeding" and "Craving the Center" are two more short, quick tracks, and then we have the weird amorphous 6 minute monster of "YHWH on Acid", where Brewer's Biblical rants spiral into a crazed sort of delirium, as the band spins in a circular fashion around him, on and on and on. Weird track this one. The album ends with (did someone say Jim Morrison?) a cover of "Peace Frog" from the Doors' Morrison Hotel album. Brewer obviously relishes at the idea of singing lyrics like "blood in the streets, it's up to my knees", and the band plays it relatively straight and has a lot of fun, playing it with gusto.

A complex and quite inaccessible avant punk album, showing hints of the jazz-based sound that would mark their future albums, but at this point taking full advantage of the license to scream and crank it up that being in a punk band provides. This is an album you won't soon forget. It's main flaw is that too many of the songs kind of start to sound the same - like the boy who cried wolf, when you have three songs in a row that make you think the world is going to end, after a while you can't help but think, "not AGAIN." It's the moments of respite from the madness that truly set this album apart.

 Paganicons by SACCHARINE TRUST album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1981
4.05 | 4 ratings

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Paganicons
Saccharine Trust Eclectic Prog

Review by HolyMoly
Special Collaborator Retired Admin

3 stars This EP was Saccharine Trust's first release, and indeed one of the first releases on the legendary SST label. Like their contemporaries the Minutemen, Saccharine Trust were a punk band that tried not to be a punk band - they followed the example of early Wire and subverted the form and changed it into something that was theirs. While this EP will have limited appeal for prog fans due to its fairly rough musicianship and recording quality, it's actually one of my favorite albums of all time. It's a strange beast. The vocals (by Jack Brewer) are a strange animalistic nasal growl, barking lyrics that are unusually literate and phonetically striking. The guitar (by Joe Baiza) sounds downright amateurish compared to the levels of jazzy mastery he would reach in just a couple of years, but it's still clear that he's trying for something other than just bashing out bar chords - his sound is brittle and dissonant, kind of like Gang of Four but without the swing; very angular and harsh. Bass and drums (Earl Liberty and Rob Holzman respectively) keep things simple most of the time, but sometimes kick into some start/stop rhythms that add to the album's excitement considerably.

"I Have..." opens the EP with a relatively complex arrangement, driven by nonstandard guitar chords chiming over a hammering beat, and a brilliant lyric dramatically intoned by Brewer, about the chauvinism of American recorded history (see? this stuff is smart!). "Community Lie" is musically similar, with a dramatic structure whose musical shifts deftly mirror the dramatic lyrics - this time about a woman condemned by her peers by the double standards of sexism. The "courtroom" scenery of the lyric is a brilliant device, and it's sung from the point of view of a juror, calling his own judgmental ways into question even as he rationalizes his position by concluding with "it was justice". "Effort to Waste" is more abstract, offering images of sickness and pain in between shards of dissonant guitar chords over another charging beat. "Mad at the Co." lasts less than a minute, and it's a brief spit in the face to that day job you hate; the music plays like one long angry riff, very Minutemen-like. "I Am Right" closes side one with a simple fist-shakin' "anthem". Probably the weakest track.

"We Don't Need Freedom" opens side two with the fairly bold (certainly "un-punk") statement that we aren't worthy of freedom because we just waste it on stupidity anyway, and secretly prefer the "comfort" of having your decisions made for you. Musically, it's not one of the better numbers. "Success and Failure", however, is. This one shuffles quickly through a tricky rhythm where bass, drums, and guitar all add something different to create a unique sound. I'm not sure what the lyric is about though. Finally, we have the epic length (5 minutes!) "A Human Certainty", a truly terrifying piece of ugliness. Opening with a long instrumental section, Baiza sets the tone and works his way into a piercing guitar figure before Brewer comes in sounding like Mr. Doctor from Devil Doll, with lines worthy of a horror movie. In the dissonant outro to the song, Brewer moans and shrieks like a man with intestinal parasites, then saying "I'm okay now" and continuing with a more sober recitation that suggests he's just waking up from a bad dream and analyzing it. Chilling stuff.

Bottom line: this is a punk album on a prog site, so take that as you may. The band would soon get a new rhythm section (with drummer Holzman going on to form the excellent Television-like band Slovenly) and incorporate more jazz elements into their sound, with Baiza in particular adding immense sophistication to his playing. But this is where it all started, and it's a strikingly original and lyrically sophisticated punk album from the dawn of the American hardcore renaissance. On my personal scale, I'd give this five stars, but for this site I think it's good for a solid 3.

 We Became Snakes by SACCHARINE TRUST album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.00 | 6 ratings

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We Became Snakes
Saccharine Trust Eclectic Prog

Review by Sagichim
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars Making both ends meet.

If you always wondered if eggplants, salmon and vanilla ice cream taste good together or do jazz, punk and prog rock goes together? and if anyone has ever gone that road? The answer is Yes. While I can name just a handful of bands that have tried this fusion of styles, Saccharine Trust would be the definitive act who clearly took both styles and made it one, and totally their own too, where music's most two contradicting genres try to coexist. Their story goes like this... the band was founded by Jack Brewer and Joe Baiza in 1980 in Los Angeles where they were part of the hardcore punk scene along with Minutemen, Black Flag and other SST groups. In 1984 the band has released their first full length album which already then showed how long they have come since their early punk days. 1986 saw the band releasing their second album while refining their act and going as far as no other punk band have ever dreamt of getting, mixing jazz and fusion elements while incorporating more instruments like saxophone, cornet, piano and more to their sound and style.

What's funny about this album is that you can attribute every member to a different genre. The vocals are punkish, guitars are progressive, bass is fusion and drums are sewing everything together, it might sound a little unrealistic but it actually works very well. Vocals by Brewer although are relatively restrained in comparison to early punk vocalists are still punkish in nature. He's not exactly singing of course, he's just reciting, shouting and throws a lot of energy, reminds me Henry Rollins a lot. Guitars by Joe Baiza are what's making them progressive and diverse, no power chords and no dirty loud guitars are to be found here. Instead Mr. Baiza is like strolling in the park and just plays whatever he comes up with, part of it is definitely improvised. He has a very Frippian kind of leads which suits the punk elements very well, on top of that he throws all kinds of weird jazzy chords, sometimes melodic but a lot of dissonant too. Although he always plays with distortion he switches from calm jazzy leads to furious solos. Bass by Bob Fitzer is so cool, he doesn't stick to one style of playing, he is clearly influenced by other jazz fusion bass players and it shows a lot ( Pastorius comes to mind here). There's a lot of saxophone here which give that final jazz/fusion vibe, very cool stuff going from easy caressing kind of leads to furious shrieking outbursts and everything that's in between.

There's a lot to enjoy in this album but not everything is in the same level. The first two tracks "We Became Snakes" and "Drugstore Logic" are awesome! I wish the whole thing would be like this, their cool blend of punk attitude and jazzy crimsonian sinister guitars are working perfectly. "Frankie On A Pony" is a long instrumental and it's jazz from head to toe, enjoyable yes but hardly an essential jazz piece. "The Need" is a short kind of jazzy ballad done with clean guitars, piano saxophone and vocals, good and overall contributes to the diversity of the album, but both I think is a little sabotaging in the album's good momentum. The next four tracks is a good return to form exploring their blend of extraordinary styles, I mean you just got to listen to this to believe. The album ends with an acoustic short piece which marks the very far end of the band's creative ideas, done with an accordion, acoustic guitars and harmonica. I don't think they ever dreamed when they first started out only six years before, that they would ever perform such a song, I mean that's enough to get them banned from performing in a punk concert for life.

This is Saccharine Trust best album and shortly after its release the band would break up due to difference of opinions about the band's direction, their fusion of styles I guess finally took its toll. I don't think this album/band would appeal to everyone of course but it's cool to check out how it all works eventually. 3.5 stars rounded up because of their originality, creativity and vision. So then I guess double egg, chips, beans and eggplants, salmon and vanilla ice cream will sort you out for the day....oh and a tea!

Thanks to epignosis for the artist addition.

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