Fennesz / Sakamoto, "Sala Santa Cecilia"
A live recording from late last year, this disc is an appetizer for the upcoming collaborative full length between two of the biggest names in electronic music. Sala Santa Cecilia is one 19-minute laptop duet that will not appear on the future full length; however the track is described on the sleeve as an "overture," so there's the chance that the eventual record could contain elements herein, though it could just mean an overture for the show itself. It doesn't come as much of a surprise that these two would start working together as they both, even as major personalities in the electronic world, remain attached to acoustic instrumentation, as well as both straddling the vague terrain between high ('chin-scratch') experimental and adult ('couch + cocktail') contemporary musics. I loved Sakamoto's two collaborations with Alva Noto (Vrioon I & II) and both of Fennesz's laptop improv trios with Fenn O'Berg, plus Touch is marketing this as if it were "the next level" of music-making as we know it, so expectations were a little high, and the disc lives up to some of them. The most impressive thing about it is the amount of different sound elements packed into such a short time while achieving a fairly level flow (the fairly level flow is the most unimpressive thing about it). If the set was improvised, it shows off the sympathetic nature of each musician to the sound palette of the other as everything locks together so well that even if Touch said it was improvised I would not believe them. The movement of the track benefits from Fennesz's recent retreat from the saturatingly obvious guitar riff and his new love of Vangelis-sized retro synth drones. Sakamoto is on point with some washed-out orchestral snips of his own, and Fennesz counters with some of the same dreamy lateral static cuts that appear on everything of his except Hotel Parallel. The opening of the piece is not so impressive, a call-and-response of monochrome tones, high-pitched and a little too church-y for my taste, oscillating in a commonplace glitch pattern. At about four minutes, a rhythmic pulse ushers in the first meat of the track: bunches of those old-style drones, orchestral loops, some digital rain, and obliterated piano plunks. Someone goes crazy with the backward orchestra loops a little too early and muddies the water, but at around nine minutes everything bottoms out, leaving a beautifully suggestive rhythm of digital slices, the likes of which I've not heard from either artist, and around which earth-toned pools of Fennesz heroin start collecting, nice and slow, across the last six minutes. Where on a Fennesz record this kind of oceanic nostalgia would be enough, this time someone peppers it, eggs it on with a mess of sharp and shimmering glitch liquid that really gets out there. The key to enjoying this is getting tuned to the small changes; after repeated listens, I actually wish certain sections would be allowed more repetition, more room for smaller variation. That this is billed as an "overture" helps me to predict that the album will be rightfully more expansive. - Andrew CUller
The Drift, "Streets b/w Nozomi"
What was once a side-project of Tarentel bandmates has now fortunately matured into a fully-realized band. The Drift play a moody, contemplative, and sometimes ecstatic mixture of jazz and post-rock which is not too difficult to connect back to the current Tarentel sound, even though there is only one shared member at this point. The ensemble features of an accord of stand-up bass, guitar, drums, and trumpet, all sharing space to make some well-choreographed sounds. The two songs on this exquisitely-packaged 12" are teasers from The Drift's recording sessions for their full-length and the promise exhibited in them is exhilarating. "Streets" is a ten-minute explorative piece which has a few movements to it. It begins with what is literally a drifty oceanic sound shattered eventually by the prodding but not unwelcome entrance of the stand-up bass, poking its plucked strings through the haze. A light percussion gives it some feet until the instruments collaboratively all rush in with a swing-happy trumpet signaling the charge. The pleasantries of the song lie in the ability of all the instruments to be playing singularly and separately, doing their own thing, yet somehow melding into some organic mass of melody and rhythm which keeps the song running, jogging, or sprinting (the song phases through all of these paces amazingly well during its movements). Throughout the song, the instruments seem entirely able to step on one another's toes elegantly, if such a thing were possible. There is no disturbance in the dance, even when one instrument decides to muscle its way in and seemingly ask, "May I cut in?" The bass is the true conveyor for "Streets," while the other instruments step up for flings and flirtations, sometimes brief and other times extended. In the end, the circularity of the song brings it back to its beginnings (in true East Coker fashion) and the drifty sound transports it away on some deliberate ebb tide. "Nozomi" enters with relaxing guitar steps underwritten with a light wails from the trumpet. It's like walking up and down the same three graceful steps over and over. The tempo of "Nozomi" is uniformly slow and meditative, unlike "Streets" where there was acceleration paired with deceleration throughout. In fact, "Nozomi" feels entirely more holistic and showcases the more restrained capabilities of The Drift. They can improvise on a hushed level or an explosive level or on both combined. Likewise, this record can be enjoyed in either a hushed or explosive state, but it's better to embrace both. - Joshua David Mann
Sightings/Hrvatski, "Back to Back/Une Drôle De Journée"
Part three of nine in the Ache Div/orce split seven inch series is, as promised, a strange meeting between two groups that are already strange enough. Despite the juxtaposition in sound, this split made me wonder what the two songs might share and, unsurprisingly, it's the spirit of these two songs that comes across has being most common and important. Sightings' "Back to Back" is a chainsaw covered in the slime of viscera and dried blood: a typhoon of drums, cymbals, unholy feedback, and droned out buzz dedicated to unleashing the fury locked up inside of every cynical eye, ear, and nose across the world. Nevermind the vocalists unrelenting mumble-scream style that manages to speak of the confusion that the music belches out. Hrvatski, on the other hand, sounds smooth; he is a drum loving, acid eating messiah of electronic, defective freak-out pandemonium and it just never gets old. His Irrevocably Overdriven Break Freakout Megamix still occupies a place in my CD player, but this track sounds like a shadowy, perverse mirror of everything on that album. His programming is as erratic and epileptic as ever, but the melodies that occupy the middle of "Une Drôle De Journée" ("The Funny of the Day") are soothing and trippy, a day dream walk in the middle of an ignorant air raid on the world. The music bounces and skips about with more energy and joy than a boy just laid for the very first time. Both bands are in top form on this split and besides, with summer in full swing and the humidity raging outside, perhaps a little sweaty breakdown action is in order to keep the blood flowing and the feet moving. - Lucas Schleicher
- A CD was not included with this 7" so no samples are available.
Shadow Huntaz, "Valley of the Shadow"
Skam's hip hop ambassadors the Shadow Huntaz are back with another full length of trans-atlantic collaborations with their brothers-in-arms the Funckarma production crew. Shadow Huntaz' Skam debut was a breath of fresh air that fused classic American hip hop with contemporary European electronica in a way that others had flirted with, but not quite achieved. The follow up Vampire EP was more of the same, but showed that when the Huntaz put their minds to it, they could create a truly brilliant track. With Valley of the Shadow, the team is once again mining the same basic well of sounds and lyrical topics that were covered in the previous two records, which makes Valley seem more like a continuation of Corrupt Data than a next-step in the group's evolution. The beats are all synthesized, featuring heavy kick drums and noise-pong snare and high hat patterns that mimic the rhythm of classic hip hop but interpret it in the mode of minimal techno. Samples are few and far between (at least samples that haven't been processed into blurry washes of filter noise) and that's what keeps Shadow Huntaz from sounding like other contemporary hip hop artists who are being sold to the Warp/Planet Mu buying public. While hip hop has always been a mash up of sampled grooves and synthetic onesa world of producers and MCsthe hip hop aesthetic itself has been diluted so much in recent years that collaborations such as this one tend to sound at times like a production team and a vocal team playing together, but not exactly on the same page. There's the hint of an all-too-convenient pairing of styles that smacks at times of a record executive's idea of capitalizing on the laptop generation's love of all things hip hop. I have no doubt that Shadow Huntaz are the real deal, and that they take this work seriously, but with a back catalog of excellent releases, this one just doesn't seem as exploratory as it should. Occassionally as on "Radically," Shadow Huntaz amaze with fluid, intelligent rhymes over simple beats that don't get in the way of themselves, and give the words room to breath. "Radically" is the reason to buy a record like this because it's a near-perfect synthesis of styles that doesn't step on any one sensibility, but focuses different ideas together to be something greater. The brilliant tracks like this though, have to be weighed against the filler tracks full of typical rap bravado and stories of sexual conquest, or the tracks that out-spaz themselves in mindless worship of the twitch. These tracks aren't risk-taking when one considers the success of other indie hip hop records that are pitched to the same audience. Shadow Huntaz as MCs have formidible skills on the mic, and Funckarma are studio wizards capable of slick, bouncing production, but by the end of "Valley of the Shadow," I get the sense that the two sets of minds have done all that they can do together. Hip hop is naturally progressive music, much like the digital cut up techno from across the pond, but we've heard all of this before, and while some of it is still great and will make it into many DJ sets, it just isn't pushing down walls the way it could be. - Matthew Jeanes
the mae shi, "heartbeeps"
The 15-year-old version of me loves The Mae Shi. The songs on their second release for Kill Rock Stars imprint 5RC carry all the hallmarks of what my inner child holds near and dear: fucked up guitars, anarchic rhythms, singers barely in control of their vocal chords. So I have to trust my more awkward and chubby counterpart when I say that Heartbeeps is a great record. While 2004's Terrorbird was impressive in its ambitious scope (33 songs in 43 minutes) Heartbeeps is just as impressive in its consistency. Songs like "The Meat of the Inquiry" and "Born for a Short Time" charge out of the blocks spitting strangled notes and caustic noise to all in their path at a breakneck pace. It's no surprise then that "Crimes of Infancy" ends in the sound of the band collectively hyperventilating, seemingly exhausted by their efforts. With all the breathlessness, it makes sense that this nearly sixteen minute endeavor is broken up with small slices of keyboard driven synth-pop such as "Spoils of Victory" and "Spoils of Injury." The Mae Shi are best when they stick to the noisy mash-ups. "The Universal Polymath" and "Heartbeeps" end the album with a great one-two punch, stretching out the time constraints and allowing the tempos to slacken without losing any of their thrust. "The Universal Polymath" could be misinterpreted as dance-punk, but its fractured drums, high frequency guitar, and its succinct conclusion challenge all the precepts of that genre while still managing to capitalize on a ferocious groove. Meanwhile, "Heartbeeps" (in its third incarnation on this release) achieves a nervy, anxious mood where hi-hat fills, analog keyboards, and the desperate vocals of the four singers heighten the unease. While Terrorbird was plagued by the fact that it didn't know whether it wanted to move or pummel the listener, Heartbeeps achieves an excellent balance of The Mae Shi's more caustic approach and their desire for a dance party. My 15-year-old self couldn't be happier. - Nick Feeley
The Remote Viewer, "Let Your Heart Draw A Line"
City Centre Offices
It's been raining here every day at a time that I want to go outside and do something fun. As a result, I've been couped up with my computers and a copy of Let Your Heart Draw A Line for a couple of weeks, and it's the perfect formula for creating a blog-obsessed, blanket curling, mopey shut-in. The newest from The Remote Viewer continues with the set up they laid out on their previous record for City Centre Offices, but turns the lights down even lower and captures that stuck-in-your-bedroom melancholy even more effectively. While the instrumentation sounds mostly natural like real pianos and guitars, everything is processed in a way to make it sound smaller, closer, more discreet, and in many cases less perfect. This is the promise of digital recording technology paying off: the use of high tech tools to manipulate recorded sound to be less perfect, more scratchy and more detuned rather than the reverse. These are simple tunes rooted in sad melodies and softly sung or spoken vocals and all the hissing and cracking that can rightfully be added to or brought out of a recording without making it seem like a joke. People are finally putting the click and glitch culture to work for something other than deconstructed techno and dub, and The Remote Viewer are doing it as expertly as anyone. This is the best of the new wave of laptop folk that I've heard because it keeps the songs together and it allows them to speak and mean something rather than letting them noodle off into the ether. There's a difficult balance being struck here between novelty production techniques and straight acoustic playing, between self-consciously pretentious song titles and heart-on-sleeve honesty, but it manages all to work in the end with a little bit of humor and a lot of damp, rainy repetition. Often, the kind of earnest, sappy break-up records recorded by folkies and emo kids and sensitive rockers leave me high and dry because the rock or folk language of guitars and drums and bass guitars feels too played out to resonante. Here is a moody break up record for the rest of us then, sweetly mapping out those lonely longing days where a computer is your only window to the world. - Matthew Jeanes
EKG, "No Sign"
Summer means three new releases from Sedimental, a continued affirmation of the label's interest in giving new, singular musicians deservingly lavish, sincere, and artist-controlled documentation. This year's winner is Resting Places(previously reviewed here) by unheard Boston composer Brendan Murray; the disc is four droning localizations of a living rest, swarms of analogue and drowned field noise fit together along sleepy routes of decay and re-growth. Murray's first major long-form release finds a perfect home in the Sedimental discog, expanded by the label's eclectic presentation and history. Originally available only as 10", now in special-sleeved compact disc, No Sign comes from artists with a bit more exposure than Sedimental is used to; the music, also, occupies austere and familiar realms, making it less the shock-to-the-head I've come to expect from the label, however deep listening turns over a complex and powerful piece. The pin-prick-on-paper sleeve design is a nice foreshadow of the sound inside, reassuring too, as I've certainly used prickly adjectives to describe microtonal music with a significantly more maximalist approach than this. No Sign's punctures are spaced to produce a decorative, even conservative aesthetic that comes through sonically as well. Kyle Bruckmann and Ernst Karel play wind instruments arranged through forcefields of analog electronic noise. Though fully engrained, their horns are nonetheless distinct and often plaintive, pooling as they do around the open spaces and between scratches of mechanical interference. The word may be "restraint," but that implies an interest in suggesting an instrument's extremes, or at least a dialogic structure in the music, neither of which are present. With EKG, texture and transition feel extra tight, precise as a cube of pin-prickings, a quality that gets reinforced by the track titles, each a time interval, traveling from "Years" down to "Seconds." As with Murray's Places, the focus here seems to be overlappings of sound decay rather than an emphasis on particular lushness or complexity of concrète sound environments, something closer to the work of Axel Dörner whose prolific appearances preceded EKG's in both the Sedimental and Locust catalogs. The supreme breathlessness of Karel and Bruckmann's horns gathers everything into a groaning wheeze of descent rather than the crackling of surface play that defines most else in the closest-checkable genre. No Sign's uniqueness is a product of these visions of closely-structured time lapse coming together with the improvisational intentions and microscopic attentions of a thousand small sounds. - Andrew Culler
David Gross, "Things I Found To Be True"
A northeastern American sax player bent on packing his unique and extreme vision into an unassuming, highly personal statement, David Gross might as well be poster boy for the Sedimental label. His first for solo alto saxophone, Things I Have Found To Be True follows fellow Bostonian James Coleman's tremendous solo theremin recording Zuihitsu and Performing Tonight, a collection of baffling sax/voice duets from Gross and Liz Tonne. Gross' 15-year history of instrument discovery stops here in an indecipherable tome to childhood and personal history. Gross has made statements about dismantling completely his concept of looking for new niches within a history of jazz etc, and these ideas are completely supported from minute #1 of this disc. The artist's style is probably derivative of someone else; more appropriately it is entirely derivative of the saxophone as an inert vessel of forces, ideas at the core of any history of free music, but Things I Have Found makes clear that these matter not. By covering the disc with personal referents, including Gross' grandmother's beautiful cover painting of the artist and his brother as children, he creates a mythology that is more than simple juxtaposition of abstract sound and subjective information. The first track, "Partially Buried Woodshed," becomes obscure childhood memory, plea for the abstract expressionist credo of emotion-through-basic-gesture, and a brut simulation technique all flooding at once with Gross struggling to keep his breath within the spaces. Others have described the artist's style as "sculptural," a perfect term that hones in on the physicality of the playing and sounds played, while leaving room for projected spaces within the saxophone itself and divergent, imaginary realms created. A woodshed of breath, brass, earth, flesh, and…wood creates itself, outside of history, outside of temporal concerns, a bound diary of suspended moments, whittled down to a purity of expression without a purity of intent. The surprises come when things even remotely close to traditional (read: human) sax sounds creep through, as if by accident. "Dystonia" is a numbing human-voice-through-saxophone-bell piece whose guttural meanderings have surely been done-over countless times but enter the mythology of the record in a refreshing way here: comfort and assurance in, yes indeed, a human presence and abject terror at how the presence asserts itself. Gross' playing is more sparse on this release than any of the other documents I've heard, though these are his most complex compositions; the intimacy with which he approaches the saxophone, each screw in each latch, every fiber in the reed, every pad or valve, and all the negative space in between, is simply astounding.
- Andrew Culler
Decomposure, "At Home and Unaffected"
It seems that Caleb Mueller just can't decide what kind of musician he wants to be. As Decomposure, he pinballs
between singing pop songs in his basement and using household items to create experimental electronica (not just in his
basement but his living room and kitchen, too). Despite the ingenuity, Decomposure has had difficulty finding a base
audience mostly because of Mueller's refusal to adhere to one musical style: when he sits behind a piano and tries (not
entirely unsuccessfully) to croon he alienates the electronic demographic; and when he bangs on pots and pans and
records his cordless phone's beeping to make insane and frenetic beat sequences he loses the verse-chorus-verse set.
But where At Home and Unaffected falls short in clarity, it shines in sheer sonic novelty, aided by Mueller's
obvious and unbridled passion for making music his way. For the open-eared listener Mueller has crafted an ambitious
and impressively creative mixture of both styles, with some further forays into spoken word and slam poetry and even
some singer-songwriter guitar work. Don't let the stylistic wanderings fool you, as Mueller does have a purpose: strictly
adhering to a rigid guideline (included in the liner notes), Mueller made At Home and Unaffected using (with a few
minor exceptions) only sounds found in his home, sequenced with computer but not otherwise electronically altered in
any way. He uses real instruments as the situation desiresguitar, piano, drums and even melodeon; he also is able to
make sound out of household stuff, ranging from strums on rubber bands to whatever percussion he could glean from
bathroom items. The liner notes, while detailed, are insufficient in explaining Mueller's method and are thankfully
supplemented on Decomposure's website: one can read the explanations behind the more baffling songs in detail,
including what Mueller used to make the sounds as well as the inspiration for the songwriting. The latter isn't merely
agreeable-sounding fluff, eitherMueller tackles post-modern alienation (Center of the World) and modern-day religious
hypocrisy (Disconnect) with equal verve. But as an album, At Home and Unaffected is flighty and disjointedthe
rapid fire beats and glitches don't mesh well with the more melodious fare, and the listener is hard pressed to not be
driven away (or crazy). Worst, some will dismiss Mueller's work as a gimmicky rather than ingenious. In a way, it is:
ultimately, the idea wins out over the end result, as it proves to be more interesting to hear about a song crafted using the sonic residue from a Trivial Pursuit game than it is to hear the finished product. Still, Mueller has more going for him than novelty. He wins significant style points for creativity and method, and At Home and Unaffected isn't at all doomed to be background noisethe album's pop nuggets can surprise and delight, and the more manic electronic
moments will challenge and amuse, especially rewarding those few who will bother to spin it more than once. - Chris Roberts
applied communications, "uhhh sort of"
There's only one way to view Applied Communications second release Uhhh Sort Of, and that is as a very crude slice of self-help therapy for a kid who never got over his mother's death. The specter of dead parents, fickle friends, and cheating girlfriends abounds here. Applied Communications' Max Woods repeats child-like mantras like "It was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream..." in his whiny, prepubescent snarl over tinny drum samples and toy instruments. On "It Bothers Me It Bothers You I Snore," Woods ascends to a anxiety-ridden peak, using distorted drums, wah-wah guitar samples, cow bell clicks, and his particular brand of, um, lyrical stylings ("I didn't mean to take off your clothes and throw you on my mattress!" he squeals at one point). The problem with Uhhh Sort Of comes from its unremitting angst. This is the record that results when the eighth grade geek makes a record, and it isn't a pretty picture. We're talking years of pent-up aggression here, touching on everything from sexual insecurity, boredom, pop culture detritus, and death. That Max Woods builds these awkward, and sometimes touching rants on top of fairly innocuous, though serviceable laptop bells and whistles makes this an even more perplexing record, one not easy to dismiss yet not easy to embrace either. The biggest albatross on Uhhh Sort Of though is the death of Max Woods' mother. He references her passing constantly in a way that is both ironically self effacing and emotionally naked, yelping on "DFK" over a simple drum loop "Please forgive me/ I love you mom/ don't die again!" In many ways, Max Woods' messy self-help sample pop most closely linked to the work of Daniel Johnston, an artist whose (often) inarticulate, scatter-shot musings could reveal much more than was expected of him. While Uhhh Sort Of is liable to scare off most listeners within the first thirty seconds, those who stick it out will find a record that, though often frustrating, is mesmerizing in its emotional honesty and willingness to be stripped bare for all to see. - Nick Feeley
The Wilderness' eponymous debut boasts a sound as expansive as their name suggests. Opening track, "Marginal Over," is the kind of song that is tailor made to achieve lift off. Colin McCann's guitar rings out, drenched in echo and late afternoon sunlight, while Brian Gossman and Will Goode's rhythmic attack keep at least one foot grounded here on Earth. While these and other such moments from Wilderness make this release a cut above other third-rate shoegazer hacks, there is also a fair share of less inspired moments. As a result, Wilderness isn't an out-of-nowhere revelation so much as it is a solid debut with much to build on for the band. Like "Marginal Over," songs like "Fly Further to See" and "Say Can You See" are built on foundations of beautifully rising and falling guitar lines, percolating beats, and the oddball singing (or is it announcing?) of James Johnson. When he isn't recalling the ghost of David Byrne past, he sounds like a more controlled John Lydon, spouting absurdist lines like "commerce your comment, comment your comment, standing as landing, living as giving." Though a good chunk of these songs mange to be engaging throughout, particularly "The End of Freedom" with its crisp tom hits and sturdy bass runs, there are a few moments that are not as striking. "Post Plethoric Rhetoric" for one takes too long to get off the ground, and once it does it fails to pack the punch of their shorter compositions. Another complaint that needs to be registered is the lyrics, which tend to follow the lead of the guitar and spout off random imagery and meandering thoughts. Fortunately, James Johnson's delivery is just affecting enough so as to keep things from becoming laughable. Wilderness, overall, is a record that desperately wants to break through (though to what I'll probably never know). While it seems clear that they are still in the test stages, there is still plenty of reason to look forward to hearing more from The Wilderness in the future. - Nick Feeley
The distant howl of a fog horn turned low and dead prowls through the underbelly of these three tracks. It's unsettling and nocturnal, the perfect musical score to accompany the artwork included with this album. It may be a bridge lit by high, bright lamps, but it could be a Russian winter scene, the details of a city lost in the haze of a Ukrainian nightmare come to life. Submissive, intricately tempered whispers, wails, and waterfalls slide through a maze of slowly turning passages, each crossing the next and producing a wall of silent deaths lost to the trees and mountains that seem to dot the landscape created in the textural sprawl of large, impressionistic strokes and dizzying, detuned growls. The only light is the deep blue color of the moon, it seems to emphasize the paths the cold takes as it digs into bone and slows blood down into an icy sludge. Thousand year old corpses line the inside of a long forgotten tomb marked by escape attempts made by the living unfortunate enough to be trapped there and the unholy scripture of a language long lost to history. Zimiamvian Night can be absolutely horrific, the manner through which their vision is presented implies a certain scope and attitude, namely that silence and softness can be just as heartbreaking and fear inducing as the onslaught so often presented through power, high volumes, and abrasive sounds. The whole of "Between Moments" is a suffocated draft beating through the heart of a sunken city buried below years of war, weather, and catastrophe. The quiet movements and subtle variations in volume and texture create an uneasy atmosphere that keep me guessing as to what might be around the next corner. The music is also strongly visual, painting broad pictures of empty, destroyed landscapes and scarred memories abound with still fright: the sight of an almost dead human crumbling away or the image of a hand protruding from cracked dirt. Thinking about what the last moments for that human must've been like is much like listening to this record. My imagination has taken wild turns while listening to this, often finding reason to be quite scared of the dark. Zimiamvian Night's approach to sound worlds is slow and dominant, allowing sounds to develop into silence before moving on. It's a panoramic piece of music that spirals slowly into insanity, like watching a final heartbeat throb away in the slowest of motions. - Lucas Schleicher
hair police, "drawn dead"
Somewhere, in some dingy squat-house performance space, someone is flipping out over Hair Police. Totally loving that "shit man, they just don't give a fuck!" and that their craggy noise-scapes are probably pissing off the neighbors. When Hair Police are done he or she will light a cigarette and congratulate themself for being in on the cutting edge. Judging by the lack of anything captivating on Drawn Dead though, it would be a safe bet to say that the Louisville, KY trio is next in line to fall off said edge. Drawn Dead isn't so much a record that is out and out terrible, but suffers from the fact that I've heard this all before, generally from better bands. What makes this even more frustrating is that I know the kind of oral brutality Hair Police are capable of. Whereas albums like Obedience Cuts grabbed me by the nuts and flung me around the room in a PCP-fueled rage, Drawn Dead limps into action, taking a few half-assed swipes at me before deciding it would rather do something else. Despite this, there are some decent moments that save Hair Police. "Untitled 1" features garbage disposal gurgles that cut in and out along with what sounds like breaking piano strings, all of which slowly build for the songs eight minute duration. Throughout, ghostly guitar squiggles and distant whispers appear, furthering the tension. "Untitled 3" alternates between barrages of short-circuiting noise and almost ambient white noise, making it at least somewhat interesting. The band finally achieves something of a groove on the final minute and a half of "Untitled 4" where Mike Connelly's demented guitar squall and Robert Beatty's pissed off electronics shed more bile and blood then Jason Voorhees at summer camp. But small signs of light can't help Hair Police escape this dark night. As Jon Whitney correctly pointed out in his review of Wolf Eyes' Burned Mind, "People love beats and they love repetition." It's a spot-on assessment and is perhaps one way of explaining why Drawn Dead is so unsatisfying. While Hair Police are no more abrasive then Wolf Eyes or perhaps Throbbing Gristle, it's the fact that the songs on this release simply languish thereall noise and no swingthat makes them so frustrating. Never do the rhythms (of which there are little to none) rise above crawling, which makes me feel stuck in some sort of noisy fog that will never pass. While Hair Police are very abrasive and confrontational, that does not give them a free pass. Drawn Dead gives too little and demands too much, leaving me unsatisfied and annoyed. By the end, I couldn't be any less interested. - Nick Feeley
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