Still Single: Vol. 6, No. 6
Bassholes are still grinding it out, and they still sound like a million explosions of raw white fury rolled into an electric fence. They’re a good fit on Columbus Discount, bridging historical gaps between Columbus classics like V-3 and the Gibson Brothers and newer bands like El Jesus de Magico and Psychedelic Horseshit. This whole record, apparently part of an archival series, is an endlessly firing machine gun. “Little Boy Blues” kicks it off by bathing Messrs. Howland and Thomas in a sea of white noise, but the riffs are there to pick out and yes, they shred. The centerpiece, literally, is “Swannanona River,” an extended slow jam that is split over two sides, not because it’s necessary for time constraints, but because it glues the two halves of the record together. “(I Like ) Smoke and Lightning” and “(Don’t You) Look Sideways At Me” both use parenthetical titles and both would be better depictions for the phrase “Blues Explosion” than a certain other band by that name. This whole record is full of rage, which you can hear in Howland’s voice; for once, we get distortion and other vocal effects that amplify the emotional delivery of the human voice instead of just masking it. The lyrics aren’t always decipherable but that’s okay; it’s not because of ambivalence. Tommy Jay makes an appearance on “Tough Luck Roy,” which he also co-wrote, and it rages like a nasty, burning itch, reminding me a bit of mid-period Royal Trux. You also get an Iggy Pop cover (“New Values”) and a beautifully simple guitar melody to close things out (“Funerarium”). (http://www.columbusdiscountrecords.com)
Another EP of stern minimal synth by SIDS’ Adam Stroupe, and once again he’s proving to be the Iron Lung of this synth shit in some ways, as two of the three songs are all about bacteria, viruses, microorganisms, etc. “Toxoplasma Gondii” and “V. Infernalis” describe ways in which you’ll get sick, and “From My Window” demonstrates his voyeuristic tendencies, but this seems like a throwaway compared to his other single on Dark Entries. Perhaps ABL got the throwaways from the demo? Either way, he’d better change things up a bit before interest wanes completely. Time was, having a guy like this in your neighborhood might mean that rent was about to go up, but you Wierd/Cold Cave/solo synth guys are giving the marketplace a thorough flensing right now. Save some for later! Cool silkscreened glow-in-the-dark sleeve though. 300 copies. (http://www.armyofbadluck.com)
Kolovos runs the Thin Wrist label, inactive for a spell, and played guitar in one of its acts, Open City. I will cop to having never paid attention. I tried to catch up by purchasing a water-damaged Open City LP, but was so grossed out by the black mold growing on the sleeve that I let it go. I know full well I was missing something, just like with that Burning Star Core record I never got around to picking up. My sincere apologies to the Chief and bred’ren, here’s where I catch up: this is thee most disjointed guiterror on offer, shifting into full-on industrial menace in spots. Treatments of scrapes, detunings, blips and curls of feedback get Slap-Chopped over beds of iron hull drone and plate-shifting chaos, and occasionally coalesce into monstrous swells that’ll make you crap your pants, or at least check to make sure you didn’t. If you were looking for songs, there’s none here. Peals of reverb recall 101 Strings-style exotica, and Kolovos makes certain to pull all 101 of them out, with the pair of pliers he borrowed from the back alley dentist who lives next door. Three tracks, cut deep and loud by Rashard Becker – tin foil hat not included, but after a few spins of this burner, you’ll need ‘em. And what a beautiful package: gorgeous, lacquered tip-on sleeve, thick insert, well-manufactured vinyl, and a silkscreened envelope containing a hand-printed download card, which also lists some of the properties of datura seeds. Strong and uncompromising throughout, Kolovos reaches into a catalog of sounds that’s crafted intently and intensely; it’ll make your skin shed. 350 copies. (http://www.thinwrist.com)
First of three records in a curated series of split singles, each one hand-numbered, with elaborate cover art, and on light blue marbled vinyl. Lucy Dragons take a two-note vocal theme and extend it to a minimal, Eastern-tinged experiment in timbre and texture, winding up as a treated thumb piano take on the whole thing. This is the most interesting part, as the beat of the instrument is layered against one another in a delay/repeat stack of polyrhythmic engagement. There’s a short vocal coda and then we’re done. On the other side, Weekend – and it’s not the other band trading as Weekend, with the 10” on Mexican Summer, and certainly not the post-Young Marble Giants project – do a little pump ‘n’ tickle with a Moby-esque melody, processed against the sound of birds chirping in a field. It’s a nice thought, and does not overstay any welcome. The band got the hint, and is now known as d u r i n g (their spaces, definitely not mine). Future releases in the series include an Okie Dokie/Nu Sensae split single, and another featuring Ty Segall and Mikal Cronin, both recently of a new LP on Kill Shaman. It’s a nice looking package with some worthwhile ideas, if a bit on the lightweight side. 333 copies, in a hand-painted bag. (http://swillchildren.org)
Weighty post-rock swing from a Chicago ensemble that’s likely been steeped in similar kinds of music since its infancy. Mako Sica actually gets a little heavier than most, though not aggressively so. There’s a ponderous quality to the whole thing that makes it a lot easier to take than your average freakout sesh, and to be fair, Mako Sica take it a good deal further than that. “W” creates tension through an ominous, bassy blues rumble that ebbs and flows across side A, like the Caspar Brotzmann Massaker getting waylaid inside of Pink Floyd’s “More” soundtrack. “Red Rivers” fills side two with “More Blues,” per se, with some sections of drum circle-esque handclapping, and finally a recession into spiritual solo guitar and cantor-esque vocals. Prayer bells are ringing. This is cool, especially side A, but it also feels a little unfinished and rough. Being a live record, it’s understandable, but there are probably a lot of facets of this band and its music that this record isn’t revealing. Somebody put them in a studio and see what transpires; hopefully they’ll fare better than a lot of other improvised/serious music from the area that Chicagoans blissfully ignore, and the world at large never sees. Second pressing of 120 numbered copies in a foldover sleeve. (http://www.permanentrecordschicago.com)
Only 350 copies of Mit Nye Band’s debut 10” were pressed back in 2006. I have four of them. These records sort of just came to me, between the used bins at record stores and promotional mailings. Still, that’s an unreasonably high number of any record, let alone a privately-pressed Danish import record, for one person to own. If you live in NYC and you review vinyl records, you are in their demographic, one which really ought to be bigger. Seven members collude to make unpredictable, hooky, self-adhesive post-rock aphorisms, playing around various themes on nearly every rock instrument known to exist, drifting into one another by vocal or digital bridges. The vinyl is not traditionally banded, so even though there are discrete “songs” on each side, things are meant to run together. Unlike Dirty Projectors, who are doing their best Sweathog impersonation to draw attention to that testicle-retreating height of spastic embarrassment (and man, they run it like a Swiss watch, don’t they), these folks work with larger, more menacing chunks of the familiar in their decoupage of avant-rock. Five years or more worth of ideas, from the studio, from the Roskilde Festival, from all over the place, with that awesome Euro notion of “and” when needed, and “or” when not. The B-side of Vol. 1 in particular rips some holy tribal yin yang a-hole something fierce; “New Druid,” which takes up all of side B, plays like This Heat crashing in on Tortoise’s “Cliff Dweller Society” editing sessions and putting some real weight on it. Both are classy, well-presented, and there’s only 350 of each (download codes included, but not activated as of press time). If you’re like me, you’ll probably find five copies of each jammed under your door by the weekend. (http://www.escho.dk)
Unabashed Ramones/MTX type silliness from somewhere in Canada, well-rendered if slight by design. That hot dog on the cover looks kind of unholy, with a seeded bun. Down here in America, the only place you can get away with that shit is Chicago, and I still can’t really abide by it. But this one looks like sacrilege all over. Any guesses as to what’s on this abomination (root vegetables? Canadian geese grease?), feel free to write in c/o the above address. (http://mammothcave.bigcartel.com)
Six more doleful missives by Jeff Witscher, proving that there is still a market for Flying Saucer Attack records. That’s kind of rude but also a little bit too true; The Immeasurable Gift misses out, by and large, of the bite of some of his previous recordings (Violent Narcissus on Not Not Fun was a particularly vicious outing), and when you take away that edge, it sounds like little more than someone tuning their guitar through two dozen effects pedals, and treating the actions of these machines as art. There are some decent dorm room soul-discovery moments, particularly on side A, but this one passes right by for the most part, forgotten nearly as soon as it leaves the turntable. How this guy has sustained at least 18 releases isn’t the question you should be asking – we live in the era of issuing everything one records – but how many of them fall at or below the level of quality exhibited here? 425 copies. (http://www.arborinfinity.com)
Standing for White Horses in Technicolor Everywhere, a name which raises my cackles a bit for being an acronym in which the first word is the acronym itself, this is a one-man overdose of Animal Collective dreamcatcher vibery that caves in on itself due to a paucity of ideas. “Go On With the Gong” is pleasant enough, thick with pipe organ synth and a pseudo-cosmic feel that is passable, if not something you’d want to actively seek out. “Burn Towards the Sun” on the B side is a long, uninteresting piece in which the artist, Cory Hanson, appropriates Liturgy’s “lawn sprinkler” drum style and sings in a style and key which maybe sounds much different in his own head than it does to me – he reminds me of the guy on Conan O’Brien who sang “IN THE YEAR TWO THOUUUUUUUSANNNNNNNNND!” I’d go so far as to call this guy a Leno supporter, just to get the rise out of him, but the whole notion of music being treated like My First Coloring Book because someone else was able to do that and make it sound somewhat interesting does not, and will not, hold for those who lack a clue. First of three singles which will comprise W-H-I-T-E’s debut CD, being released on the Aagoo label (note to that guy: my address has changed, I’m wondering if I’m ever going to see those No Age and Mika Miko 7”s I shelled out for in your picture disk singles club a long, long time ago … your move). Silkscreened Arigato pak in hand-screened paper bag. Nothing to be proud of, either. (http://swillchildren.org)
2009 was a good year for bad vibes. The tail end of the Not Not Fun noise explosion has been fusing to the remnants of the DIY hardcore scene, which is still collecting itself from the thrash crash. Put together, it has produced a lot of ugly records. It’s a shame that Providence’s White Mice seem to exist separate from those borders, because their fifth album Ganjahovahdose is a blistering maximalist assault that would bum out anybody looking for a modern hardcore Whitehouse fix. So much about this band trips my musical prejudice red flags: they wear giant mouse masks, have industrial elements, and traffic in squealing noise boxes, but I don’t give a fuck, since it all works so well. Through the pulsing filth, the drums and bass bludgeon structure into all the songs, bludgeon being the operative term. Phallusturd’s drumming is a relentless, tom-heavy anchor, like a nastier, discombobulated version of Des Kensel (High on Fire). For all the distortion and racket, sounds remain distinct, never getting bogged down in pure sludge, a testament to both good working knowledge of their squelch boxes and solid production by that guy from Skinny Puppy. The electronic noise and squealing rise and fall like a wave, and the vocals are drenched in distortion, trailing off into digital noise, turning the songs into hideous chants. The ideas are filled out in pidgin English (mouse-ese?) inside the big booklet, a scatological religious manifesto called The Crotchtower, including their own Chick Tract for cheese worshiping sinners. (http://www.20buckspin.com)
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By Dusted Magazine