(NOTE - I wrote this weeks ago, while drinking White Russians).
I just put up my first Xmas tree. At 34. While listening to this.
The Red Cords kick us off with their breakneck garage punk. Vile Guy is six tracks of smashed out riffs, dirty red-lined vocals, and a drum racket that echoes from the annals of the booziest, spikiest punk history. Delivered with a snarl and a twinkle in the eye, Vile Guy leaves nothing left, everything expended and spent, sweat soaked and bludgeoned, cracked teeth gleaming from a maniacal smile.
Holy shit. Lyon's Herr Geisha & the Boobs are not what you expect. Book Of Mutations is a one track album of brutal rock, taking the harder edges of Shellac, Slint and Sleep and smashing it against a brick wall, a Necronomicon of noise and nihilism, fraying the fabric of sanity. A mutation in every sense, the trio manage to shapeshift into garage rock mavens for a few minutes here, doom soothsayers for a few minutes there, always maintaining a tightly-coiled focus on manipulated menace. Big, brave, brutal, brilliant.
Operator is a krautrock-worshipping wunderkind four-piece from Brooklyn whose swirling EP Puzzletronics I is breathtaking in its sinuous dexterity and distorted force. Their insidious rhythms aren't built to lull and beguile - they are set to destroy. The effects that permeate these five tracks seem designed to tap into your core energies and send them haywire, a hypnotic maelstrom that connotes both chaos and cool assurance. Even when things get technicolour and weird, like Raincoats-esque closer 'EE UNSH', the band never let go. Dara Hirsch mutters on 'Requirements', "Whose side are you on at the end of the day?" I don't think I have a choice - Operator are in control.
Over to Toronto now and Fresh Snow. They released their latest EP Won through Hand Drawn Dracula a few months ago, and while I love their instrumental take on dissonant melody and noise as movement (baring similarities to Canadian contemporaries Holy Fuck), I have been sucked in by their collaboration with Pink Eye AKA Daniel Abrahams from Fucked Up. The title alone drags me in - 'Don't Fuck A Gift Horse In The Mouth' - a slow-building motorik behemoth then bursts forth, mesmeric before the obligatory Pink Eye howl. The entire EP is breathtaking too, elegiac in places, loudly insistent in most others. Great stuff.
Now for some light jangle from Melbourne's Grandstands. 'Stranger (In A Sense)' is a precursor to their upcoming album coming out on Whalesmouth. Sundappled yacht amble from the 'burbs, the track oozes languid sun-drunk blase - no absolutes. They aren't even assertive in their song title! Relax and forget about it.
I used to live and work in a small country town in Australia called Roma. Weird. aren't from that Roma, but the infinitely cooler Italian namesake of Rome in Italy. Yet the name of their album, A Long Period of Blindness, taps into my experiences there - whether it be through inanity or long bouts of drinking to get through said inanity. This album is not inane, though - it's a monster of dark psych, showering shoegaze and pummelling rhythms that washes over you like a black tide. It is also eloquent - there is a delicateness that underscores the gloss and reverb that penetrates. There are obvious touchstones to Swervedriver and Slowdive in the likes of 'Infinite Decay' and the knowing 'Gaze' respectively, and as the sweeping ominous closer 'Swans' hits, the lyric 'Why do I drown?' is both poignant and heart-rending.
Human Ottoman is a Portland trio who specialise in making beautiful, chaotic noise - but not the way you might expect. There is a drumkit, a cello and a vibraphone, a bunch of effects - and that's it. Farang doesn't put that into perspective - the percussion sounds like a choir of cavemen mauling the monolith, basslines that thrum in the chest but cease to exist, the graceful strings that can shudder and be torn asunder at the drop of sanity. Penned as "polyrhythmic world-metal", the album manages to cross borders, join boundaries, blur cultural touchstones, to create something strange and intoxicating. Again I use the word chaos in a review - but that is what Farang is. Elegant, calibrated, and wondrous, sure - but chaos nonetheless. Like Tortoise and A Silver Mt Zion decided to band together to make a pop album, a free jazz album and a mainstream rock album, then gave up and threw clippings of all three efforts into one congealed mess. Fascinating stuff.
Happy Sunday everyone!