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Monday, August 25, 2008

SCISSOR SHOCK "Synonym for the Word Decay"

Scissor Shock is an interesting mix. It's mainly a one-man project (Adam Cooley is the man responsible) which on the one hand sounds almost like a laptop band. The drums sound synthetic and programmed, the vocals are usually effected, and there's some digital fuckery throughout. However, the playing style is closest to loose-knit multi-member ensembles who specialize in semi-improvised chaotic rock. Think of a digital version of Fat Worm of Error, or a Caroliner from the future instead of the past. It's not quite as tightly choreographed as U.S.Maple (I think!) but each song definitely has a plan.

Scissor Shock is really prolific and this full-length release follows right behind an equally full-length release which seems like it came out less than 6 months ago. From what I gather, Scissor Shock started out doing something more like the usual kid-with-a-laptop style of grindcore/8-bit. I'm glad that the project has evolved into this more challenging and interesting style.

The arrhythmic beats are accompanied by some equally off-balance guitar manglings, trombone, miscellaneous, and some Wicked Witch of the West vocals. There are also a couple of tracks to break things up with only some acoustic guitar noodling, which actually sounds quite skilled and even pretty. These tracks are called "Ghost Fahey" and "Fahey Ghost" and while I'm not really familiar with John Fahey's music, I'm guessing these tracks are some kind of homage. (maybe also an homage to the band Ghost?) I really respect that actually. If you're going to try to play like a favorite artist, just call it like it is, don't try to pass it off as your own invention. In the same vein, this album also includes a track titled "Blood Infinitive" and yeah, there's definitely a link between this and Royal Trux's "Twin Infinitives" too. Strangely, while being far more honest about who he's stealing from, Scissor Shock has also created music that is far more unique than most other bands.

P.S. Adam is also very generous about giving his music away online. Poke around a little bit and you can find plenty of Scissor Shock for free download, but you'll want to buy an album too!

"Synonym for the Word Decay" is to be released September 26th on Laser Seizure Records.

Friday, August 22, 2008

HAGONY "Impersonal Lubricant" CDR

You couldn’t be blamed for expecting Hagony to be a rather goofy and lo-fi affair. This is a project featuring Emil Hagstrom of Cock ESP and Jason Wade of the notorious Minneapolis band Faggot. When I first saw this project appear on MySpace, I think they claimed to exclusively play amplified empty beer cans, a statement which seemed perfectly believable. This CDR comes in an economical plastic sleeve with paper insert and no attempt has been made to cover the standard branding on the disk itself. Then there’s the cover art. You can see it here. It’s not terribly offensive, but it’s not safe for work. Emil’s face and those of some political figures are pasted onto a group photo of… nudists? The back cover has Wade’s face inserted into a newspaper article about a man who ate his underwear in an attempt to beat a breathalyzer test.

Okay, I think I’ve painted a picture for you. You would now probably be just as surprised as I was to find that this album is actually carefully crafted, detailed, and intricately-layered noise. Seriously. This is every bit as good and worthy of repeat listens as any noise record pressed onto 180 gram vinyl this year.

The first track is mostly varying layered tones, somewhere halfway between drones and piercing feedback. The way the tones almost harmonize here and there creates an unsettling mood, a tension builder that leads into the second track, which explodes in a dense squall of noise. Things proceed from there with these two properties, harsh/dense and subtle/ominous, more carefully intertwined. No recognizable instruments or sound sources emerge, although I’m pretty sure those are some kind of horror movie screams submerged in the mix. And then best of all, it ends too soon! This is definitely an album and not one of those 3-minute Cock ESP releases, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

I am 100% behind artists who do not take themselves too seriously. Sometimes however, such artists’ work deserves to be taken seriously itself, and this is a fine example. Now, someone repress this thing in a deluxe vinyl format already.