Tag Diving: SKRONK


Tag diving is like dumpster diving. But instead of digging through garbage and finding a perfectly fine half of a sandwich that’s only a little bit completely covered in mold, I browse a tag on Bandcamp and share neat music with you. Today’s tag: SKRONK!

We’re all familiar with the term skronk. We like when things skronk. When things don’t skronk, we wish they did. It is a good thing. However, its origins do not lie with metal. Googling the term tells us that it’s used to describe basically any discordant sound or style made with instruments. It seemed to be used well before metal to denote styles built on that sense of discord and dissonance, and was mainly associated with avant-garde jazz or noise rock. I started down this rabbit hole through noticing the “skronk” tag on the recent, excellent Replicant EP. This isn’t a history lesson on skronk; I’m only mentioning this because I found very little metal when browsing that particular tag on Bandcamp. I did, however, find a bunch of weird junk that some of you dorks might like.

Let’s start by completely losing our minds with Yatagarasu. Other genre tags include “chipcore/NES,” which sounds like something I would hate for no reason. As soon as I clicked play on “Literal Salt Lake,” however, I was filled with an intense urge to grind my Super Nintendo into dust, snort it, and jam the controllers into my eyes (in a good way). This is glitchy, spastic electronic madness at its best, with lo-fi vocals hatefully blared within the chaos. It skronks hard.

Next up is Mothguts, the self-described “jazz-grind bastards” from New Jersey. Listening to “Come To My Spaceship” confirms that description pretty much immediately, and we get a sense for the sort of discord that birthed the term skronk back in the day. Throughout the album, the guitar and saxophone do everything they can to avoid each other while simultaneously colliding at full force. Wig out to some of these shorter tracks, then go on an almost sludge-like skronk journey with “Jamaican Horror Show.”

Babies are strictly prohibited from our next selection, the self-titled album from No Babies (look, I’m a dad now, I’m required to make terrible transition jokes). Imagine someone mixing raw, middle-fingers-blazing punk rock with just a dash of nasty noise rock, but then the cap on the noise rock container fell off and now we’re left with an unusable glop of angry garbage. Well, as it turns out, that garbage is perfect and it just so happens to pair very well with that old, cheap beer you smashed on your forehead. I’m not going to pretend that everyone will like this band, but it really grew on me as I listened through the album, and I don’t think I’ve heard anything skronk quite this hard.

Alright, we need some metal. One of the very few metal acts I came across while browsing the skronk tag was Canada’s Octexosis. This mysterious outfit may or may not be linked to Hermit Cult, which may or may not have been featured in another TovH article, both which may or may not involve a member of the Toilet community, but who’s to say. Anyway, we’ve got tons of beautifully written counterpoint between overdriven bass and meandering guitar, all while the very convincingly programmed drums usher the madness along. Instrumental metal can very easily be lost with me, but this is some seriously compelling stuff that more than earns the hallowed title of SKRONK.

Lastly, we’ll cap this with Drama Section. This is for big jazz boys only, but there is a healthy dose of heavy in certain sections. Honestly, I may disagree with the skronk tag on this, but I’m glad it was there because this album was a gem for me. It doesn’t wander into discordant noise too often, but it more than satisfies as a beautifully crafted modern jazz album with plenty of creative elbow room.

So what did we learn from this article almost devoid of metal? Well, we don’t hold exclusive rights to our beloved skronk term, unfortunately. But there’s a lot of great harsh and challenging music out there to discover, and that’s pretty much the reason most of us exist. Secondly, if you’re not active on Bandcamp, you’re missing some of the best opportunities for exposure to new music. Thirdly, nearly all of the albums featured here are for a name-your-price download. So get out there, and get weird.

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