Power trio or acoustic sensitives? This album shuffles both manifestations and mostly decides to alternate the settings, allowing torn ears some peace following each eruptive onslaught. Surely this must be guitarist Henry Kaiser's most extreme recording, in terms of decibel achievement? His rabid emissions build a wall of Black Metal doom-chundering, a pinnacle of sludge detrimetalism. Damon Smith's grime-bass traverses the tonal range past cello and even as high as the violin, bowing, dexterously plucking, as if eternally questing for the very nature of string stress magnification, dark powders blooming into the night. Weasel Walter's drum strafes are sympathetically bludgeoning. Kaiser kicks pedals to pervert pitches, making his guitar sound like a Fender Rhodes electric piano, going completely ape. Walter's drums quake the foundations, leading a full-tilt charge.
When in acoustically tender mode, this same configuration is confidently capable of a completely contrasting vocabulary, calming the Sonny Sharrock down to Derek Bailey, the Neil Young down to John Russell. The delicate drag of the string is paramount. On these softer pieces, Kaiser wants to be a banjo man. The rub of the skin, the shimmer of cymbal, the piano interior of the guitar. Walter sounds like he has wood, glass, cellophane and peanuts laid out on his skins.
Every single time, the same alternating trick works. Following overload (and this is some of the most exciting music of the year) there is quietude. Following skeletal subtlety (and this is some of the most attuned music of the year) there is sick bombast.
The End; Becalmed; Untamed Talents; Justice and Good Order; The Guessing Game; In The Field; An Exchange of Prisoners; Palaces; The God of Blue; Second Stories; Home; Sad Experience Teaches Us; The Wedding; The End and Afterward.
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