Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Kevin Shields – The Death of Patience [Deathbomb Arc/EMR/Entropic Tarot]/Foot Village – Fuck the Future [Deathbomb Arc/ExBx Tapes/NGWTT/olFactory]

Now that the awesome folks over at Animal Psi have beaten me to the punch (I was not expecting such a sneaky Labor Day weekend update), I am here to REALLY give you no excuse not to pick Kevin Shields’ newest, The Death of Patience. It’s a first rate scorcher to be sure. Also joining Kevin is the good people of Foot Village, whose Fuck the Future CD came out last year and compiles various out of print releases. They both come courtesy of super nice/apparently a tad bit crazy Brian Miller, purveyor of Deathbomb Arc and the oh-so-rad Cassette Gods site. So now that I’ve bludgeoned you with a million names, I’ll let miss Kevin Shields bludgeon me into sweet sonic submission and then let the Foot Village just straight up bludgeon me to a bloody, baffled pulp.
Kevin Shields, in my humble expert opinion, is one of the raddest names you could give a musical project. And hey, a rad name is half the battle, right? Well, no. But it does help sometimes. Eva Aguila doesn’t need any though, so all the points she gets for the name are bonus ones. Anyway, now that yr probably confused out of yr mind, it’s a perfect place to start talking about The Death of Patience. I’ve been listening to this thing a lot since receiving it, and this baby is HARSH. The album starts in classic bait and switch mode, with a few twee keyboard notes then promptly murders yr brain with roughly one and a half billion daggers of white noise. It’s dense and visceral and, just, wow. Aguila really knows how to build a track. It’s very well paced, well composed and becomes increasingly interesting as it moves along rather than vice versa. I’m not exactly sure what she’s using here but there is mondo amounts of feedback and it sounds like she’s manipulating it with delay pedals and probably a bunch of other things. Though even minus the musical merits, the track would be impressive for its pure force alone. “Nothing’s Never Ending” travels along steamrolling everything in site, until a start/stop static breakdown and then all of a sudden there is a totally lucid drum machine and keyboard duet. What the hell? Is this what she has been riffing on this whole time and we just couldn’t catch it through the fuzz? I don’t know. But she ain’t content to just let the duo serenely waltz off, she whips up another sonic windstorm before the tracks end. Maybe my favorite track on here, “Apparently” is quite though subtly rhythmic. Layers upon layers of jumpy, crackling sound. The track sounds like your house (or yr skull maybe) is being ripped apart. Walls are crumbling, electrical outlets are spewing a thousand sparks a minute, you used to be in yr cozy bed on the second floor but now yr in the basement crushed under piles of plaster and wrecked floorboards. Yr being swallowed up into the Earth as everything caves in around you. Abruptly yr shot back into real life as the track ends. Intense, to say the least. “Catholic Guilt” riffs on a sequenced synth loop, a pitchshifted almost rave-like kickdrum sound joins in before tape squeal breaks things momentarily. Then things get going like those rollercoaster cranks that pull you up the hill but, you know, run through hundreds of distortion pedals. The whole thing just builds and builds, occasionally giving you a moment to catch your breath. There are so many things going on in this poisonous fog, various rhythmic loops of stuttered screeches, pitch manipulations, undulating noise unguent at seemingly every possible frequency. It’s like taking a drop of pond water and examining it under a microscope, and seeing the endless amounts of life forms that reside there. The closer, “Bless You” (aww, how polite) is another favorite and centers itself around a percussive loop which plays out untouched for awhile at the beginning until Eva brings da noize hot and heavy. A few reviews and things I’ve read about Kevin Shields’ music makes reference to cold or icy things which doesn’t make sense to me. This is a fucking firestorm! Most of the heaviest moments on the record reside here. There are some thoroughly devastating sounds to be had here. Totally savage but totally under control. Moving with, around and sometimes just obliterating the beat. The last couple minutes segue into an infinitely echoing bit of ‘xylophone setting’ keyboardwork. Each of the five tracks was recorded in a different place but Brian Miller did an excellent job with the mastering, keeping a continuous consistent “sound” to the album (not to say Aguila had no part in that though). This thing really is intensity in 10/2 cities—sorry, I’ve got to meet my daily lame joke quota. Hototogisu have always been the titans of harsh, dense noise, in my mind. But it looks like Kevin Shields has made a place right up there along side them. My ears are on all things Aguila now.
In case you have yet to hear, the D.L. Hughley on Foot Village is drums, drums, drums and crazed singalongs too. There is at least one drum kit and then all sorts of other kinds of percussive tools. The other thing is that most tracks are named after a place i.e. “Brazil” and the Village is fond of shouting the title at the beginning of each track. Foot Village falls somewhere between interesting sonic experience for the listener and what was probably a really fun sonic experience for the players. What I like about the percussive only attack is that, although there is no melodic instrument or melody being purposely performed, occasional melodies randomly emerge from the barrage of tones. The other thing that I am quite thankful for actually is that Foot Village knows how to play drums and plays them well. Whenever I hear about an all drum band, I can’t help but think of Burning Man-style drum circles which I am not down with. Anyhow, the Foot Villagers do a great job with various kinds of dynamic arrangements and just no-nonsense, bodyrockin’/bodyslammin’ beats. Which is a good thing because the vocal side of things has probably wayyy too much nonsense. Sometimes their words are so bizarre it nearly works (“World Fantasry” with the now deceased Weirdo Begeirdo) and sometimes their vomiting is so grating that it nearly hurts (“Egypt”). I’m not sure how things would sound if the album was strictly drums only, but at this point in my life at least, not feeling the vocals too much. As far as comparisons, I’m kinda lost. The group that is most like them in theory is Big A little a and, they do a little but Foot Village is just way more out there and deranged. They don’t really have too much in common with Taiko or other kinds of drum music that I know of, though I am certainly no drum scholar. The best thing I got for you is the double drummer line-up of Ettrick. (Now there’s an idea, a Foot Village/Ettrick collabo would be off the hook) FV and the Ettrick drum squad share the same wild-eyed fury and penchant for busting heads (at least drumheads). The most fish-outta-water entry here is a Pete Swanson remix of “Antartica” (which in it’s original version is one of the strongest tracks anyhow). It’s got some minimal Yellow Swans-esque droning a la Descension Yellow Swans or Drift Yellow Swans with cut-up, effect drum crashes spliced in. An interesting re-imagining of the FV sound. All in all, I’d say lose the vocals (or least make them less of the focus) and I’m totally on board. Otherwise, I really dig the rawness and blockrockin’ beats as I mentioned before, and that, love it or hate it, Foot Village has carved out their own weird little niche in the world (or their fantasy of it anyway.)
Both CDs are professionally packaged/pressed in jewelcases and the whole nine. As you can see both come with their own brand of weird/sweet cover art too. Oh yeah, Fuck the Future comes with lyrics?!?

**due to restrictions on the amount of characters in the post title, I had to abbreviate three label names, so EMR = Experimental Music Research, ExBx Tapes = Excite Bike Tapes and NGWTT = Nothing Gets Worse Than This. My apologies to those labels.

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