So, you’re a puddle? The heat and humidity have finally melted what’s left of you, just in time for community pools to close for the season? Well, join the club, friend; all I have left now is one hand, and with that one remaining hand I’m gonna turn up the noise and close the book on summer 2015. Good riddance to that.
Subterranean Seasick Blues: Margarida Garcia & Manuel Mota
She’s the stand-up bassist; he’s the guitarist. On Crypt (Yew Recordings), this Portuguese duo scare up what’s easily the most fried, disorienting album I’ve come across this year so far. Each player occupies a very specific lane: Margarida Garcia sllllllllowly coaxes deep, robust growls from her bass with a bow, while Manuel Mota traipses through the stratosphere, idly attempting to invoke a celestial sprawl via an electric guitar. Their storm fronts are separate as often as they intersect, but when they do come together, the result is like watching grainy videos of two different slo-mo chemical reactions simultaneously projected on the same wall. Those moments are viscerally uncomfortable in a pleasantly surprising way, as though the improv waltzes preceding were preludes you didn’t quite recognize as such. Every gesture arrives shrouded in dry echo; the incidental chatter and background noise crowd Crypt when it goes nuclear and when it is pretending to catch its breath or daydream. Because of this, there’s never really a point where the listener can truly find her or his bearing: Every sound is roar, toil, trouble, cough, whisper, unceasing ear-singeing snarl sometimes ballooning out to a brief, unbearable decibel level just before collapsing in on itself. That’s the blues, folks. Who would want things any other way?
King James Prince Albert: AG Davis
Bent Bible (Poverty Electronics) is not titled arbitrarily, as this piece was created in part this way: “the entire King James Bible as a PDF imported as raw into an audio program.” Teletype, leviathan noise gives way to something considerably more destructive in short order, but there’s no aspect of this nineteen-minute beast that isn’t out-and-out maximum. AG Davis — who’s from, helpfully, “the United States” — doesn’t hesitate to use the entire sonic field as a canvas, so that as the onslaught leaps forward and mutates it can seem that sounds are jumping from headphone to headphone, and crawling out to eat you. And that’s part of the appeal here: What can register at first blush as a sort of compositional recklessness is, instead, very considered and completely awesome. If you listen to this every day and tell your pastor that you read the Good Book every day, you won’t exactly be lying, will you?
Generator Blues: JSCA
Even as it sometimes seems that we can know too much — thanks, internet — we can never actually know everything. For instance, I have no idea who’s behind JSCA or where the project is based or how long it’s been in existence. Here’s what I know: At least one man and woman are involved (probably), as evidenced by the vocals on 2014’s Demo Tape and this summer’s No ends (Alien Passengers). And the honest truth is that I’m glad not to know more; there’s something seductive about a mystery, as when Angels in America quit recording under that name and tumbled down a Twitter-fueled rabbit hole of similarly bleary no-fi pop projects before vanishing altogether some time ago. (Did I give chase? I did. I still have no clue who was actually behind those projects, and that’s totally fine with me.) Reminiscent of very early Gate, the title track from JSCA’s tape feels ghastly, diseased, and malicious; it’s as though someone saw fit to awkwardly mash up the field recordings of a helicopter, a bass drone, and a dying woman mumbling incoherently through several thin layers of papier-mâché. One wonders: Is this what it sounds like at the tail end of a long, painful illness, when the machines laboring anonymously to keep you alive are more powerful than you, to the point that you can no longer hear yourself speak above them?
Pray that none of us will ever know.
For Extra Credit: Is drunk-dialing a noise hotline on Thursday as badass as prank-calling your seventh-grade science teacher on a Saturday? Everything’s subjective, but Baltimore’s No Rent Records are laying odds that the first option holds greater appeal.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 2, 2015