Even Buck Gooter's name sounds gristly, vaguely profane, like something illegibly scrawled in a rest stop bathroom. And on 100 Bells, the Goot lives up to its name. From the overblown drum track and overdriven whammy bar shredfest of "Apocalypse Me" to the throbbing and unshaven cowtown karaoke of "I Don't Talk to the Dead," Harrisonburg, Virginia's Billy Brett and Terry Turtle sluice their "primal industrial blues" in "the sediment and grime" they apocalyptically envision in "Dissolved Song." With the intense sparsity and abrasiveness of early no-wave acts, the two have created a cathartic experience whose grinding repetition, howls, and blasting beats feel more akin to amputation than exfoliation. But by the time Buck Gooter stomps out the blues standards of "Fracking Up The Planet," an ecocritical polemic against pollution, garbage, and environmentally destructive governmental policy, Brett's and Turtle's murky process finally solidifies into focus: they play blues as bluesy as it ever was. But instead of floating downstream, lilting into a gentrified tradition, they drag us into the sludge and mud clogging the delta.
A lot can happen in 20 minutes and 52 seconds. It's funny, then, that on Shintaro Matsuo's latest 20-minute-and-52-second-release 20:52, very little seems to transpire. Across the 17 stems that quiver along the gossamer dough of the record's surface, Matsuo's burbles unwind and revert, never quite attaining a form or pattern. It's a process of ambient becomings through which Matsuo's fickle melodies trickle, tickling like a presence just before contact, like the air right above a follicle at the end of a goose bump. Glassine shards drift, encased in a sonic orbit whose perihelion teases a touching-down but whose eccentricity imbalances and collapses the approach. And it's a listen that only rewards further digressions into its whorls and helices, one that merits a grappling with metaphor and a necessitates a reconfiguration of the spacial and emotional possibilities of sound: gurling with potentialities and directionalities all nearing audial senescence, 20:52's negotiates the aporia of silence and catalogs brief, aleatory intonations against its suffusive logic. Matsuo nurtures this concrescence, these periphrastic excursions, into a shimmering, incantatory ptyx—but always knows when to snuff it out, quietly, deftly, spectrally.
"Holy Error" is sonic eschatology. The final track off of Sote's Sacred Horror in Design, Iranian composer Ata Ebtekar's latest full-length for Opal Tapes, brutalizes sound—both acoustic and synthesized—into something apocalyptic. Configured as a means of deciphering Ebtekar's "childhood following the 1979 Iranian revolution," "Holy Error" unloads rounds of sub-bass and discharges decaying arpeggiations. A martial thump introduces the piece before screeching setar and shrieking santour begin to bristle. Before long, the song curdles: distinguishable instrumentation dissolves as the tear gas hits and sound is weaponized, reconfigured and deployed as a mechanized toxicity. The collapsing logic of crisis reticulates, territorializing a state of emergency. Anxiety perforates the scene as electronic source engineered at EMS Stockholm becomes quantized, spectralized, hostile. Rubbery solidity ricochets and extends a network of noise, its erratic flows and spikes mapping a brutal topography across its viscid surface. As the apparatus continues to atomize sound into discrete zones of trauma, another aspect of the array emerges. It might be an alarm, but it could be a scream, too. In this postlapsarian moment of collapse, the ambiguity of the noise blurs the sonic signifiers of state-sanctioned violence (siren) with the visceral, human response to the trauma induced therein (scream)—cultivating a vital humanity from within the submission of imperial control. On "Holy Error," Ebtekar disrobes the acceleratory futurism of neoliberal rhythm while amplifying the voice that wails out in protest. Beyond this onslaught, "Holy Error" projects a glimmer of salvation, refracting into an insurrectionary revelation.
"Seams" sweats. That is, Pinact's latest single off their upcoming full-length The Part That Know One Knows possess a distinctly pubescent quality—one evocative of burps and braces, frayed t-shirts and enamel pins. It's raw pop-punk, jittery and slurred at once, tripping over itself as it follows Gillies' sneering tenor, singing of something "splitting at the seams."
Shot in the Glaswegian threepiece's studio, the accompanying video depicts a rowdy performance inspired by Nirvana's legendary Paramount show in which partygoers crowdsurf and mosh, revved by Lewis Reynolds' rumbling drums and Gillies' jagged, high-octane guitar. With its attention to the physical signifiers of pop-punk—from the bandmates' disheveled mops to Gillies' low-slung guitar to the VHS grittiness of the footage itself—the clip discharges the sonic retromania of a teenage era into a bratty physicality, capturing a moment of sounds and gestures and bodies still lingering somewhere in the corporeal memory of the skin.
"Barbapapa" should sound heavy, maybe even unpleasant. But it doesn't: despite the skronk of its mechanized percussion, its spooky minor chord synth stabs, and the diagetic scream that cut across the song's mechanical layers, "Barbapapa" is industrial music at its most infectious, at its most benevolent. Unearthed and reissued by Unseen Worlds, the track is part of a Frühe Jahre, a compilation of experimentalist C-Schulz's early work that showcases the musician's fluency with genres as disparate as noise and modern classical. On "Barbapapa," as drum machines squelch into place, Schulz's tools seem to sway into assembly as he refurbishes the harshness of industrial music into something more akin to the funky bounce of acid jazz. In the swirl of chug and chortle that C-Schulz conjures here, man, machine, and magic meld in a euphoric singularity—one that rewires apocalyptic anxieties and channels its clanking energy into a vision of pure play.
The Euglossine Bee is an insect whose burnished exoskeleton glints. Flitting in and out of their erratic pollination patterns, the bees adorn flora like jewelry, gilded and opalescent. Rather than collecting nectar from the orchids they visit, male Euglossine Bees instead apply pollen as a cologne, extending their opulence to the realm of the olfactory. Gainesville, Florida-based musician Tristan Whitehill, better known as Euglossine, makes music just as bedazzled as the homonymous hymenoptera. On Sharp Time, his latest record for Orange Milk, Whitehill further lavishes plush synth sounds and pathways, ladling redolent hums and stabs into viscous forms too slippery to crystallize. Perhaps most emblematic of Euglossine's indulgent meanderings and becomings, "Phenomenological Manifold" stages the insectile flutterings and shimmerings across its generous 13-minute runtime. Bedizened with plodding lounge guitar and trickling arpeggiation, the track offers a winding, multifaceted experience across sensations—the very manifold encounters with twinkling and resplendent phenomena that the song's title promises. Glossy and thick, Euglossine's sonics transmute into perfume, fragrant with luxury and luster fit for the ostentatious bees of the same name.
Euglossine's syrupy Sharp Time touches down on July 21 via Orange Milk.
Though it was released in October of 2016, Fraternal Twin’s Homeworlding is a record for Summer 2017. The contented feeling of the album’s breezy guitar lines and sweet vocals is contrasted by the overarching sense of yearning—for truth? for acceptance? for peace?—conveyed by the lyrics and chopped-up compositions. “The day won’t come / until I’m ready for it / so I don’t beg,” sings Tom Christie on “Big Dipper." We live in a world of unresolved conflict, but as Christie ultimately concedes, we have the ability to make it happen—this is, when we’re ready.
In the “Big Dipper” video, premiering on AdHoc today, Christie strums, sings, and stares in a nondescript wooded area. Directed and edited by Jake Lazovick, the clip captures the record’s conflicted feeling with emotive shots and deft editing. At the song’s apex, the video juxtaposes a leaf floating downstream with a tight shot of Christie’s deadpan face beneath the sky, reinforcing the anxious contentedness of a life adrift.
Katie Von Schleicher: Sam Evian's "Big Car" taps into a thread of writing I've become obsessed with, the evocation of humanity through its counterpoint with machines. There's Fritz Lang's 1927 German expressionist classic Metropolis, a thundering fever dream, and there's the psycho-regressive relationship I have to my laptop, but lying in perfect balance between the two, we have the car song. The perfect within-the-car song is epitomized by a masculinity I can only view from afar, and is perhaps best demystified in the writing of a woman. The song's delivery must be nonchalant, the stakes very high. At its heart, it's an unplumbed well of emotion within a structure that feels nothing and has the propensity to kill: a man in a car. It holds this potential, a kinetic energy that somehow, through the right song, suggests eternity. If you're thinking I'm an asshole right now, perhaps the car song's poetry can't be put into words.
I've been trying to write this song, but Sam beat me to it, or rather, he added to a very specific cache of gorgeous tunes. My favorite is "Big Black Car" by Big Star, a laconic skate on a precipice maybe only the listener can see. I spend a happy eternity with the verse: "Driving in my big black car / nothing can go wrong." Leading up to the chorus, the chords get mildly exciting, just enough to drop me in a complete static as Chilton sings, "Nothing can hurt me / nothing can touch me / why should I care? / driving's a gas / it ain't gonna last." It feels like intimacy, nothing can hurt me, but it disappears quickly: it ain't gonna last. It's akin to a moment when someone opens up to you, just briefly, before they close in upon themselves again. Why is that beautiful? Why is it sorrowfully so? Reminds me of Rebecca Solnit's writing on sad songs, her generosity toward them: "There is a voluptuous pleasure in all that sadness, and I wonder where it comes from, because as we usually construe the world, sadness and pleasure should be far apart."
Last time I was at a Sam Evian show, as he sang the first line of "Big Car," "I remember / when I started to let go," my friend turned to me and said that he'd already been had by those words. It's a brilliant opening, an optimism that persists until it doesn't, until the refrain catches me on "is it over now?" Then you remember the finite stuff you're made of, reflected back at you from a hunk of metal surging down the coast. Why a car? Maybe because of all the things we can do in them. It's one of the more conscious ways we can run away from something.
Listen to Katie's new track "Sell it Back" below and get tickets to her August 4 show with Sam Evian here.
How to Slip Away is a strange, sparse collection of music from Brooklyn-via-Vermont musician Zach Phillips. On "Fucking Up," perhaps the track most emblematic of the delightful quirkiness of the record, Phillips enlists friend and one-time Jib Kidder collaborator Sean Schuster-Craig for a ditty whose rushed, atonal monophonic guitar does sound—after all—a little fucked up. Its an oddball assemblage of fucking up, replete with kinky chord stylings and abrupt starts, stops, and hiccups along its minute-and-a-half runtime. At points a polemic against everything from mosquitos to superheroes, a very brief history of fucking up, and an autobiography of Phillips' experiences with fucking up, "Fucking Up" never really finds a center—or even a destination. Which is to say, it can't stop fucking up. The off-kilter track, despite its falterings and bizarre structure, is wonderful, an addictive bright spot in Phillips' goofy yet endearing How to Slip Away. If the goal was to make a bad song through confusion and profanity, Phillips and company fucked up big time.
Everything about "Catching an L" is oversaturated. From the overexposed colors that bleed in and out of the dizzying video to the meandering horn that blares over a whirlwind drum performance, the first song off Greg Fox's upcoming full-length The Gradual Progression projects a sonic and visual landscape as engaging as it is overwhelming. The result is, quite literally, a trip: the video depicts a 4-wheeler excursion across a rocky apline landscape, and the track doesn't sound much different. Synths jab, cymbals shriek, and unidentifiable sounds shiver in and out of the frame as a loungy horn skronk seems to conduct the assemblage.
It's an enthralling, overstimulating peek into Greg Fox's world, an ever-expanding cosmos soon to be slipping into free jazz and black metal on the upcoming Ex Eye album, a collaboration with saxophonist Colin Stetson. With its honk and propulsion, "Catching an L" forecasts both the freewheeling experimentation of Greg Fox's solo work and the abstract heaviness of Ex Eye. It's a colorful and hallucinatory transmission from one of experimental music's foremost technicians.
Catch Greg Fox play with Ex Eye at Saint Vitus August 8 for one of the jazzy metal four-piece's first shows ever, and be sure to prepare by listening to the groups self-titled debut, out now on Relapse.