Australia’s MusicYourMindWillLoveYou label has been diversifying their roster a bit as of late, adding noisier brethren The Holy See and Darren Bauler’s Iowa-based Medroxy Progesterone Acetate to the fold. Haven’t heard that particular Holy See release yet but I did get a hold of the latest Medroxy album which I was pretty excited about.
Back in the summer, I reviewed Something in the Weeds, a killer CD-r of droney noise or noisy drone depending on yr predilection. Anyhow, at the time I said it was the best I’d heard from the MPA project but, I don’t know, that throne may have a new successor with We’re a Monotonous Band.
In somewhat typical MPA style, the record kicks off with its longest track, “The Yoke”. After a short spoken intro (“They threw the yoke upon me, all of the days my life”, I think), electronics start a-buzzing. One of Bauler’s strongest traits is his ear for electronic textures. It seems like almost every track of his features every waveform imaginable. There’s stuttering, creaking, pulsing, shining, scraping, rumbling, rustling, spitting, crumbling and any other adjectives you can think of. His other strength lies in that he can stack all those sounds on top of each other and make cohesive batholiths of heaving frequencies. “The Yoke” is relentless. It just keeps coming at you with more and more sounds. Though, it sounds like there are a couple key loops coursing through the whole thing, particularly the glistening, wavering sine wave that’s exposed at the end. “Paleyellowpurple” matches airy drones with a synthetic tone being slightly pitch-shifted and modulated. A woman’s voice begins speaking though it’s pretty unintelligible, due mostly to the answering machine quality of the recording. She sounds very distressed and that comes through despite her unknown words. Interesting pairing of anguished humanity and placid synthetic-ness. “Circle of Salt” within the opening moments already sounds classic. Again there is a vocal recording, this time male, and buried underneath a ton of electronic debris. The thing that makes the track so killer is the ghostly sense of melody Bauler imbues the piece with. Sure there’s nothing “melodic” about jutting shards of noise or the crackling/rumbling dropping in and out, but the piece sounds meticulously structured and arranged, so even during the attack of the machines there’s a vague underlying warmth. At the end, as the piece breaks down the man’s voice becomes slightly clearer and says something about “hearing things”, which is what I feel like whenever I hear this track. I mean, of course I’m hearing things but you know, I not sure if I’m hearing what I’m actually hearing. Anyway, not describing that well at all so I’m moving on to the Smog referencing(?) “Teenage Basement Spaceship”. After a brief a pitch manipulation of another voice sample, the track gets going with a continual astral ascent. “Spaceship” has more open space than the previous track. Particularly at the end. There’s actually a great bit for the last 15 seconds where a heavy, bassy sound periodically thuds over a smooth sine wave, really wish it carried on a bit longer. “Slaughterhouse Champs” is more active with noisy synth manipulation against a beautiful mellow/melancholy backdrop. Reaching a great, subtle build until someone pulls the power. “How Does the Skin Man Get His Skin?” it’s a brief, unsettling piece with a bunch of electronic sounds resembling bird noises, a gong, a violin and voice.
“The Story of the Solehn Sisters, Who Were in Love with Each Other” features a bit prettier arrangement with echoing pulsating synthstreams. There is also a man (Bauler?) telling the eponymous story, saying things to the effect of “since no one would write stories about women who aren’t beautiful, she was beautiful” and the sisters, at one point, kill “all the trust fund princes”. Interesting story to say the least. The thing is a lot of time the voice/story over music seems gimmicky to me but Bauler pulls it off somehow, maybe it’s the incredibly bizarre tone of the delivery. The finale, the even more unwieldy titled “The Necropsych Snowblind Blues Band Presents Overdriven Liturgical Dirges For Lotte Reiniger” is somewhat similar to the amazing closer, “The Pig Who Stood Upright”, on Something in the Weeds; though it’s a less straightforwardly melodic piece. There are two main layers of sound going at it, a pretty synth wash and an uncouth bit of stammering noise augmented by squirming filter sounds and effect vocal clips. The piece actually lasts for 9 and a half minutes, though you’d never be able to tell. It’s easy to get lost in the façade; that is until it’s broken up rather abruptly and the album is over.
The CD-r comes packaged with black and white art on fold over cardstock with velvety redness lining the inside. Real sweet. It comes with an insert too. Copies are still available from the label but if you can, it’s always better get a copy from Darren himself. He elaborately packages his releases to the nines and his bundle for We’re A Monotonous Band is no different. First and foremost, the album comes with a bonus CD-r entitled Vons Serin Exchanging Frequencies With Cicadas. It features an excellent 39 minute opus of the same name as well as “Unrequited” a placid, 27 minute live set from last year. It comes with a classy looking double-sided, fold-out cover and a bunch of scraps of text crammed inside; it also reads at the bottom “MPA ’08: we’re coming to your town, we’re gonna burn it down”. That better be a promise, nay, a guarantee. The whole thing comes tied with a ribbon and sealed with wax, with a lensless Polaroid and an old ‘Lesson Picture Card’ slipped between the two discs. So whichever way you can, definitely pick this one up.