Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dull Knife – Untitled [Epicene Sound Replica]/Du Hexen Hase – Dark Slobby Cave [No Label]

Always happy to rep the sounds of Seattle. Here are a couple tapes by my two favorite local drone purveyors. The connection between the two attacks is a man by the name of Adam (awesome dude, meet him and be friends) who gave me this one-two punch we have here at a show a little while back. Time to jump in.
This untitled tape by Dull Knife is actually a bunch of recordings from a while back from when they were a four piece—they are currently melting minds as a two-piece, saw them a month ago and their set was like entering a temple; full body drone. I’d only heard the Knifers in the duo and trio format so I was psyched to complete my education and hear them as a four piece. One of the first things I’m struck with is how solid they sound. Solid in the sense that the four of them are totally unified. The first piece, whose title I can’t quite read but I’m gonna go with “Cog Bank Account”, features lots of low frequencies wandering purposefully if that makes any sense at all. For a while there’s a short bit of effected guitar or keys that gently nudges things along but for the most part the track is spotted with strategically placed transmissions from space. “Vespers”, my favorite track here, is HEAVY in probably the most mild-mannered way possible. There’s nothing harsh or even that loud here but the piece is robust and dripping with menace. One time I played this too loud and everything on my desk started vibrating. It was an intense experience. There’s a constant cross-pollination of sounds here coming probably from guitars and/or something with keys; the two seemed to be the weapons of choice for these guys. Each of the instruments at work offer very slight hints of melody throughout keeping the track totally engaging during the course of it boring holes through your eardrums and slowing boiling your brain in heavy audio plasma. Monolithic shit.
The other side holds two more tracks. “Morske Orgul…” begins with a lone organ, which gradually meets up with another organ or two. Or maybe it’s all on one organ. The piece is pretty minimal. There’s something like a flute in the background contributing a few muffled shrieks, all the while the track is slowly filled out with more sustained tones and slurred guitar swoops. There’s an odd rhythmic trickle buried way down low that I’m excited I just locked into. Stammering high pitch tones contribute a vague melody just before things switch over to “Squirrel Church” in the final stretch. “Squirrel Church” is a quick, pretty coda to the tape featuring an obscured but present and pleasant melody coming from an organ off in the distance. 30 minutes of blurry meditations does a soul good.
Dark Slobby Cave collects final jams from Du Hexen’s old practice space at the S.S. Marie Antoinette (r.i.p.) Luckily, Du Hexen Hase survived the demise of SSMA and gave the public this little beauty. The sound is much clearer than the late night murk of the Dull Knife tape. “Entrance” is the first track here and it features I think two or three fuzzy guitars all going to town, along with splatters of percussion and effect manipulation. With the two releases I’ve heard from these guys I’m always impressed how they find such a solid melodic center in every track. There aren’t any melodies really being played here far as I can tell but the way the guitars overlap and interact creates an interesting harmonic patchwork. “Entrance” rolls along relatively smoothly for the most part but by its end things get pretty unstable with a guitar barely maintaining a wobbly sustain while another indulges in a metallic freakout until the track’s end. “Obstacle” opens with the ding-dong of various chimes, a sign of the percussion oriented times to come. Distant tinkling bells, bass-guitar-as-a-drum playing, a few sporadic notes of piano and various rustling all make appearances at some point making it a righteously weird track. The flipside holds “Cave Animal Revolt”, my favorite piece of the tape, where Du Hex really gets their dark slobby cave dwellin’ on. A flurry of voices is set against a rhythmic bass loop. Total shamanic spirit ceremony. Lots of ephemeral sounds float through, particularly like this one brief vocal loop that sounds a little like a violin. There’s a real pleasant chorus of voices somewhere near the back but it gets overtaken by the angrier ghost howls. Between guitar and delay pedal feedback and a bunch more voices piled on, the track reaches its urgent breaking point and dies down.
The Dull Knife tape is still in print at Epicene but limited to a scant 30 copies (come on!). It features a drenched and dried J-card in honor of the jams being recording in the rainy season, though I live in the rainy season so it’s possible some the watermarks are from being in my pocket. Dark Slobby Cave is self-released (so check their myspace for one) and limited to 50 copies. I don’t know who did the artwork but it’s bitchin’—and there’s more on the other side of the J-card. It’s printed on cool red-orange cardstock but my scanner rejects that color for some reason so pay no attention to the image.
Also, for anyone reading this who resides around Seattle, Du Hexen Hase along with Wet Hair and Peaking Lights and some others are playing at the Josephine this Friday. Come by, say hi and live the jams. Should be a rad night.

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