This sounds like an Ipecac record. That should give a hint as to the sound and leave you just as clueless, all at once. It’s odd. It rocks. There great musicianship to end up with noise and chaos. There are rhythms and haunting pulses and percussion permeating throughout the album.
Firstly, I am a Duane Dennison fan. From the early days of The Jesus Lizard hammering out ugly, sweaty, drum machine culminations of sweat and amps and disgruntled venting, Dennison’s unsettling waves of tone have captured me. His continued work on Tomahawk albums, with Mike Patton and John Stanier (Helmet’s best albums) and even Trevor Dunn kept him in my sights. Dennison has created some of the hardest and enthralling rock fueled by adoration of eclectic avant garde, jazz, surf, punk mixtures.
Connect him with a relatively unknown drummer, Brian Kotzer (worked with Silver Jews and Harmony Korine), and Alexander Hacke of Einsturzende Neubaten, and the audience is blessed with an eccentric blend of heavy wandering bass lines and elements of clutter and clanging. The three seem to have open access to a recording studio and a myriad of percussion toys and effects pedals. Touted as “Some are carefully composed and arranged, others are freely improvised,” the bandying of the track listing perpetuates the album and never leaves the audience bored. The songs also never feed on ego and continue past a point of necessity.
The first comparison that comes to mind is those 8 to 10 minute dirge rumblings of late ’80s Rollins Band; propelled by the dynamic genius of Sim Cain, Chris Haskett, and Andrew Weiss. Those songs tapped into s discordant organic churning which lingers in a trance like focus; a feral foundation for a thousand yard stare. This, however, has a mechanical pounding to it with a tribal cacophony of instrument sounds. Lighter fare ensues but none the less, anxious and insecure. Do not mistake the quiet approach, or use of melodies and elongated synth tones, for soothing. The sporadic drum kicks certainly jostle the body.
These songs, now being released on Patton’s Ipecac Recordings, were recorded in the summer of 2012. Fifteen instrumental songs, varying in reverb and execution, challenge a listener to pin point a genre. But while critics attempt a futile labeling, an open listener can just enjoy. These tracks could simply exist in an art gallery or a David Lynch character’s breakdown. Occasionally, we get a typical Tomahawk feel, like “Shadows” or “Act 3.” But the second track “Circles” rides on an awesome bass line while coupling it with simple snapping. The calculated tics ensnare a listener into a disjointed roll through one’s own memory. They feel of a small boat lost in a fog drenched bay at night would be a good description.
Haunting. Festering at times. Cautious tonal upheavals and sparse crashes covered in ghostly sweeps of high pitch keys defiantly set an atmosphere of tension and relief. With five tracks simply named, “Improv #,” you realize that there is no agenda here outside of creating unique music. And good music at that.
FFO: Tomahawk, Medeski Martin and Wood (without the funk), Blue Sky Black Death, Phantogram, Mike Patton Soundtracks, Christian Death, Suicide, Television (but darker), Einsturzende Neubaten (with a guitar) (Hutch)
Purchase The Unsemble here: Amazon