100% Support: Bandcamplifier Worship
Despite the title, no Boris albums were harmed (or reviewed) in the writing of this post.
On Friday, May 7, Bandcamp is again waiving their cut of purchases made for the day. Since I seem incapable of providing any sustained account of the innumerable albums that merit a full review, I am humbly offering these 5 short write-ups of albums I have either already purchased or will be purchasing come Friday. Maybe you’ll buy them, too! They are deserving of your digital dollars.
Seed – Dun Pageant
Released March 5, 2021.
You’ll know within the first minute of “Poison” if Seed is for you. The rhythmic flang and twang of a reverberating guitar riff is supported by a slow, building drum beat while Lux Lucidi’s stunning croon reaches vertiginous heights, scraping the sky as they wishfully lament, “You’re supposed to be / looking / right through me.” Imagine Lingua Ignota by way of Earth and Marriages. Dun Pageant is a naked sort of doom, more loud than heavy, more pleading than plodding. It is an exhibition of the world’s unpaid debts, a gloomy procession of the price paid by all subjects—but particularly non-normative ones—when they trade language and access to the social Symbolic for the pleasures and joys of a now-unattainable jouissance and their formative, subjectivizing lack. There is both a materiality and spirituality to Dun Pageant, a tricky duality summed up neatly at the end of the doleful “Vices”: “We are close but / we are not together.” Nearly touching, always separate; a ‘we’ repeated but never fully united. Enjoy this one on a rainy day while reading Irigaray.
Slope – Street Heat
Released March 12, 2021.
What if Red Hot Chili Peppers, L.A.P.D. (yes, that L.A.P.D.), Beastie Boys, and Living Colour but instead its Turnstile, Trapped Under Ice, Bad Brains, and Frame of Mind? On Slope’s debut LP, the funk is in full effect as the German band slam-dance their way back to the weirdo years of the early ’90s. For a hardcore record, there is a lot of approachable crossover appeal, particularly on choice cuts such as “Trainsurfing.” Personally, I like to picture the Wyld Stallyns smashin’ play on a tape deck, struttin’ the streets of California in acid-washed jeans and plaid button-downs, all while Slope’s unique brand of jazzed-up and funked-out hip-hop hardcore pumps through their ghetto blaster and puts a smile on the Sun’s face. Take your post-vaccination summer party to the next level with Street Heat. (Thanks to Hans for the recommendation!)
Klexos – Apocryphal Parabolam
Released February 26, 2021.
From present and former members of Aronious comes Klexos, a death metal battering ram that mixes the brawny musculature of Suffering Hour with the abrasive dissonance of Ad Nauseam and the heady atmospheres of Sutrah. While the album’s first two tracks feel almost too unstructured, things change for the better come “Cosmogony.” Perhaps it is not a surprise that once we turn our attention to the universe’s origins that Klexos finds its surest footing. From “Cosmogony” through “Astathmeta,” Klexos provides us room to breathe and to move through their bleak labyrinth. If “Obfuscare Veritas” and “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” are the inconceivable chaos before the forming of our universe, then this suite of tracks is the controlled, measurable pandemonium of our lives that can take on a variety of moods and affects. Brandon Brown’s legitimately ferocious vocals somehow match the expansive, aggressive riffing, yet he also layers in some surprising melodic touches that nearly push the band into prog-death territory (check that solo on “Adiaphora”!). Apocryphal Parabolam swings between blankness and fullness, between legibility and unrecognizability, between cacophony and synchrony, finding its crest somewhere between each pole. This album is by no means perfect from start to finish. Neither is life. Still, both are worth it.
where mermaids drown – And the raging winds do blow
Released April 9, 2021.
Two things immediately endeared me to where mermaids drown’s debut And the raging winds do blow: the lack of capital letters in the band’s name and the album title beginning with a conjunction. If both are trite literary conventions, they still hold a lot of charm for me. where mermaids drown are something like This Will Destroy You, God is an Astronaut, Explosions in the Sky, and just a hint of Russian Circles. That being the case, it will come as no surprise that And the raging winds do blow is guitar-driven post-rock that delivers bombastic, swelling overtures based on intriguing, guileful riffing and fully realized emotional arcs all without a full orchestra’s worth of instruments. “Mydriasis,” the album’s second track, stands out immediately as the album’s high point, but it works wonderfully as a hook to bring the listener back to the album’s beginning in order to discover what “One Week” and “Brine Pool” have to offer. Each track has a moment that thrusts itself upon the listener with unmediated intent. What I most deeply want from a post-rock band is that flash of interruption—when your attention is arrested—and you are enveloped fully in the cinematic magic of the unfolding scene. Towards such dramatic yet secure shores do where mermaids drown’s raging winds blow.
Foreign Bronze – The Far Arena
Released April 2, 2021.
If there is something I love more than a de-capitalized proper noun, it is a simple ink drawing on a brown paper-bag background. It evokes memories of distros at hardcore shows in run-down venues and homemade stenciled shirts spray-painted in a friend’s backyard. Let’s call it suburban DIY chic. Foreign Bronze, with their grainy black-and-white band photo, fit quite comfortably into that aesthetic. Recorded in a living room and retaining all that accompanying warmth, The Far Arena is replete with big, fuzzy guitars and vocals that oscillate between slightly off-key moans and emphatic shouts. Foreign Bronze mixes the weirdness of Slint or Unwound with the more radio-friendly ’90s rock of Far and Nirvana while also grazing ever so gently against the stop-start hardcore and emotional urgency of Snapcase. Is it skramz? Is it slowcore? Is it noisemo? It’s all of those things and more.