I'd almost entirely forgotten about them until I picked up the last Obits record Moody, Standard and Poor back when I was trying to review records again semiregularly.
(deep breath for classic me storytelling, AKA done expect the point to reappear for some time)
I bought it knowing absolutely nothing about Obits other than the design of the packaging was ace. A mood was evoked by the colors, composition, and typography. Good enough.
Driving home from the Electric Fetus, I gave the disc a preview. 45 seconds into the first track and barely a block down Franklin, the cigarette dropped from my mouth into my lap. My right hand was managing the steering wheel, and my left arm was out the window, fist clenched and pumping angrily. "FROBERG!" I bellowed.
I don't really dislike Rick Froberg. I don't. But when I haven't heard one of his bands in awhile, I forget how his voice works and that human voices can work like that at all. Every ten years or so, I stumble across one of his projects, and this pattern had just been updated.
Back in high school, I was a fairly bigbig Rocket From the Crypt Fan, which meant that I'd at least read about Drive like Jehu, Froberg's gig with Rocket frontman John Reis. I mean, the internet was around, but you couldn't burn CDs and you could maybe fit a short mp3 or two on a double-density 3 1/2 inch disk (still under 3 megs), and I was still in South Dakota, so it wasn't until I got to college in '97 that I got to experience Froberg for the first time.
It was probably the first time I was left in alone in the KAOR studio that I really went nuts. I really had no idea which direction to go first. I went nuts and listened to pretty much every record and CD in there that I'd read about but had never heard. I even listened to Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation, which I'd owned on CD for years, but, shit. They had the Blast First pressing. How the fuck do you not give that some love?
But yes. There was a copy of Yank Crime. I listened to it. Think I actually still have it somewhere. Don't really recall. At the time, since it sounded nothing like RFTC, I was utterly uninterested. But Froberg. Oh, that voice stands out.
Years later, I pick up the Hot Snakes' Suicide Invoice because I faintly remembered reading a good review of it somewhere and I knew Reis had been involved. Froberg!
So anyhow. The first listen to the Obits record was hasty and broken up over several drives from here-to-there and back-again. Absorb-y, but not really cogent. Anyhow, fourth or fifth listen, I totally fucking notice that one (and eventually two) of the songs were sung by a not-Froberg, and the not-Froberg's voice was TOTALLY recognizable. So that led me to Googling Sohrab Habibion, the guy in the album credits labeled probably something more helpful than not-Froberg.
Turns out he was in...
And I still have my copy of Techniques of Speed Hypnosis, which I actually remember hiding in the studio until I knew they were gonna sell all the CDs only I knew what were. Nope. Not concealing that I jacked stuff from the studio. But I felt guilty, so I made a point to but a TON of stuff when they unloaded. Man, it was OUTRAGEOUS what they wanted to charge for promotional copies (see what I did there, fuckers?) Anyhow. It's a great goddam record. Fits into that neat, bright, meaningful scuzzpop D.C. and nearby Virginia excelled at producing for so long, organized into a song-interlude-song-interlude rhythm. They put stuff out on Grass, Relativity, De Soto.
Full of goodness.