Xiu Xiu – Dear God, I Hate Myself (Kill Rock Stars)
Noisy, loud, DARK, songs, generally having more pop tendencies than not. More discordant and experimental than the last few releases, Dear God, I Hate Myself does some exploring where the debut LP Knife Play left off. A wide array of percussive elements are explored, including; a bumpin’, seemingly ragamuffin drum machine, eerie clinking chimes, clunky pots & pans, and other crazy things I’m not even sure of. Jamie Stewart’s voice is a mad powerhouse of trembling torment, displaying quite a range of of intensely scary (but catchy) melodies. Chirping and whining weird electronics make insane noises in explosions of indescribable overlapping sounds. Songs that contemplate life (possibly through death) and other heavy subject matter including eating disorders and self mutilation give the album an overall disheartened and dejected vibe that is certainly brightened by the mostly upbeat tones of the instrumentation. Through the wonderful feedbacking, whaling mess of distortion lies a modicum of hope in the horror of life, a light that is slightly brighter than it once was.
Roy Montgomery/Grouper – Split 12” (Self-Released)
Roy Montgomery’s side consists of one 18-minute flanging monster track that was recorded LIVE. It’s drony, cool, calm psych (with intensified moments of buiding anxiety) that progresses through multiple movements and manages to stay on point, with only a few subtle reversions. Though it is eighteen minutes long, it is not “jammy shit.” I assure you I do not typically like “jammy shit”. However, I do like this, probably because I do not consider it as such (even though parts were probably improvised). This is most defintely structured, each riff gradually leading to the next, strummed chords on a guitar that almost sound like a sitar. There is a bright, serious energy focused in points of this song that soothes the mind, transporting one to a place of ecstatic joy, hovering blissfully in an other-worldly realm. Dreamy, whirring notes floating in the air, bouncing around wavering with reverb’d twang, sounding an echo.
Grouper (Elizabeth Harris) begins her side of the record in a hissing haze of ambient melancholy with waves of ancient lament emerging from the fallow fog drifting around. The EP contains no guitar that I can hear, which is typically what accompanies her vocals, but rather, makes use of some electronic organ. “Vessel” and “Hold the Way” employ this, making for tremolous, dreamy, piano-like tones covered in fuzz and dust, void of much light. Liz Harris’ voice is the most impressive instrument on the record, carving out smooth melodies of angelic murmuring, opening space for more fluttering coos and harmonizations that overlap, shining in pools of painfully beautiful serenity. Her fourth track closes with an organ groove fading-out to field recordings of barking dogs and dripping rain. Sparse, crackling songs that, even though somewhat uneventful (compared to pop songs), flow down with a sorrow and strangeness that’s chilling (in an almost happy way).
WARNING: THESE ARE NOT POP SONGS, JUST AMBIENT TUNES WITH GREAT MELODIES!
Written By Antony the Tank
on WCDB Monday Nights 10pm-12am