Here’s a pair of Yellow Swans related 3” CD-rs, the first by Maggoted on the Netherlands’ Cut Hands label and the second is a live collaboration by Yellow Swans and Phil Todd’s Ashtray Navigations project and is released by Todd’s Memoirs of an Aesthete imprint.
Cutting right to the chase, Maggoted is a duo of Pete Swanson and Robert Mayson (of Australia’s Grey Daturas) and 1000 Shut Downs is their second release as far as I know. And it’s gooood. Swanson’s non-Swans projects are always pretty sweet but I think Maggoted might be my favorite. The single track on this 3” is dense and heavy but thoughtfully, sometimes even delicately, composed. Similar to the YS track from the Goslings split, but even more monolithic and black hole collapsing. The track begins rather subtly with static, a muffled percussive loop and other drones. It creeps like death for a little while and gradually builds. It is hard to fully discern everything that is going on, but there is lots of it. At one point the track just explodes with Mayson’s guitar (I think) and manipulated mixer feedback. They ride the viscous waves to glory, somehow creating an abstractly rhythmic pulse as everything crumbles around them. A total sonic batholith, and totally rapturous. I wish the release was a bit longer but it is a 3incher and the dudes totally have “main” bands and roll in different hemispheres; so I can excuse the lack material and appreciate stuff they have made, especially when it’s this good. And sorry for overdoing that whole italics thing too.
The awesomely titled Psychedelic Used Car Lot Blues, features Pete Swanson and GMS along with “Skipper Todd” and Mad Mel Crowley on clarinet. It’s a live recording from Sheffield dating back almost two years ago. It begins with feedback and some electronically manipulated drums courtesy of Todd. The clattering of the drums and the electronic drones work well together but, unfortunately guitar is overly prevalent in the mix and it kinda works against the rest of the arrangement. I’m not sure who’s playing it but it’s a little too traditionally “psych-rock” to fit the style that’s going down. After a little while it wises up and there is a just beautiful cacophony of sound. Electric frequencies coming from every which way, drums being obliterated and strangled gasps of clarinet. A relentless beat emerges first coming from the drums and then joined by the electronic muck. It’s very rare that you hear Yellow Swans with live drums but it works pretty well here. Some drummers kill noise/drone sessions, but here it’s definitely a positive, adding some visceral urgency. Around two thirds through the track the drums drop out, and the track turns into a free-drone guitar session. That sounds real nice too, and the track simmers marvelously as some manipulated percussive noises creep back in. It’s a weird, half gradual, half skronk comedown that the track ends on as the dudes are met with applause and cheers and some guy asking “That was a good jam, huh?” Indeed, very much so. I tend to be a Yellow Swans purist (i.e. I’d rather hear them in non-collabo mode), but this little disc is making me question that a bit. It actually sounds pretty close to what you’d imagine the artists would sound like together, Ashtray Navigation’s psyche freakout run through the Yellow Swans’ figurative whatever-it-is-that-sounds-so-fucking-good-every-single-time pedal.
Both 3inchers come totally recommended. 1000 Shut Downs is limited to 80 and still available from Cut Hands and various American distros (try here). Psychedelic Used Car Lot Blues is limited to 100, though I’m not sure as to the availability (I got it at a Yellow Swans show), you can probably dig it up somewhere if you look hard enough.