Freak Scene #22

December 10, 2007



Finally Freak Scene gets into some easy listening, delving into some gauzy pink soundz this week from the newest and greatest in UK acoustic pop. JK folks, it's all dudes and all gnarly jams, albeit spoken of thoughtfully and with great sensitivity.







I guess Blank Dogs mania has come to full swing. Having dropped a slew of material in the last few months Blank Dogs are setting many turntables frozen with their cold-wave post-punk stylings. There’s definitely a heavy Suicide vibe with a strong sense of minimalist song structure. The latest piece of their catalog is this new 7” on the Florida’s Dying label which is right on par with the rash of material Blank Dogs is getting out there. “Poison Ivy” is filled with cautious romance and a stripped down tone. While there are easy comparisons to early synth punk and Goth moves there is definitely a profound weirdness that’s hard to put your finger on. The vocals sound as if someone was leaning on the record player and the sound was alternating between being warped and at proper speed. The melodies are simple and dark yet appropriately reductive to the point of early Warsaw riffs. In terms of excitement, these guys are on par with No Age and Deerhunter with the kind of intense interest they seem to be generating. Perhaps Blank Dogs will not remain underground for long and their lo-fi alien sex anthems can transcend the trappings of genre to find an audience ready to embrace them. For now we get to enjoy them as our own treat.



There were many highlights to last year’s stellar No Fun Fest line-up. One performance that perhaps surprised the audience more than anyone was Japanese noise pioneer Merzbow. Having been reduced to “pioneer/elder statesman” in the scene, Merzbow performed a set of mammoth electronic shock therapy, which had even the most jaded fans riveted. Some people are legends for a reason and Merzbow proves his current stature with a return to form document from the festival, aptly named Live Destruction at No Fun 2007. The set contains both digital and analog methods of the Merzbow language, that being huge waves of crashing electronics with textured rhythmic shifts and fluctuating frequencies of noise. When dealing with pure noise the elements that distinguish the better work in the field are creativity and movement, both of which are in full display here. Merzbow’s sound is epic, a huge statement of sound composition and the disregard of formula. When enthralled in the center of the whirlwind one can hear the madness of Merzbow’s process. This album is as impressive of a document we’ve received from him in quite some time. While it may be redundant recommendation, this music should be played at high volume.



Shifting to hardcore we have the second 7” from Austin Texas’ Total Abuse, which is particularly devastating attack of vintage hxc thrash laid down rough and heavy. The group’s 06 demos are what’s here and the band sound in fine form, certainly focused and tight with great buildups and vicious vocals. Total Abuse play with a relentless but catchy energy that is destructive and fulfilling. While certain sections become a bit blasty there is certainly songs and riffs at the center here. Fans of Siege should certainly take note. Released on the Even Worse label, these demos show the start of what hopes to be a long run for these guys as the world can always use more nasty, vehement punk bands. Made up of former members of the Snobs, Total Abuse have been generating some praise from punx and this release makes such affirmations entirely credible. This 7” is a great X-mas gift for the drunk crusty that asks you for change every day.

And if we have yet to provide enough horror or pain this edition lets finish off with Air Conditioning’s The Ocean cassette on the Callow God label. This cassette was originally issued in an edition of 50 copies, which I missed. However the label has seen fit to run a 2nd edition for us poor slobs who missed it. Air Conditioning are from Allentown PA and play an extremely aggressive noise rock barrage that is unflinching in its attack. There is a dark storm coming down the road and you can only watch helplessly as the sounds pummel anything in their path. Like Lightning Bolt the band uses heavy repetitive riffs with sheets of noise that are stifling in their largess. However unlike Lightning Bolt’s neon Day-Glo tendencies, Air Conditioning is all blacks and grays. Having seen the band live, it’s hard to capture the full experience on tape but The Ocean is a hell of a document. There are moments of tense respite, which only highlight the negativity found in Air Conditioning’s music. If you think Sunno))))) is heavy…. heh, pick up some Air Conditioning and get flattened.

-STEVE LOWENTHAL

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Freak Scene #22