Sunday, October 26, 2008

Black Pus/Foot Village – Split [DNT/Deathbomb Arc]/Foot Village – Friendship Nation [Gilgongo/Tome]

The subject of tonight’s review is people who play the drums really hard.
DNT keeps working their way up the awesome label chain with another LP, co-released with Deathbomb Arc, notched on its belt, not to mention having some sure to be amazing LPs on the way by Ducktails, Social Junk and Barrabarracuda. The dropping of this LP was timed by Black Pus Brian Chippendale and Deathbomb Brian Miller to coincide with their nation saving effort, Noise for Obama. That’s enough info for right now though, I wanna jam some tunes.
The disgustingly/cleverly named Black Pus (a joke on the three trillion “Black ______” band names in existence) is the solo project of Brian Chippendale—he’s in Lightning Bolt, in case you are unaware. When the needle drops yr hit with the riotous party jam explosion of “Floatzilla”. I know Chippendale is playing drums and singing but there’s a lot of fuzz in here too and I’m not sure where it's coming from cause it sounds overdub-free. Anyway who cares, I’m just loving how groovy and swinging this track is while also being a sludgy bludgeoning. The song moves relentlessly at the max frequency of fun. It real cool, to paraphrase Gwendolyn Brooks. There’s a weird electronic pseudo-flute freak out at the end which is just icing on the cake. “Altar Rat” matches energetic free drumming with crumbling, squeaking noise loops. I think there may be an electronic drum kit at work here in addition to Chippendales usual set-up, because the drums have a bit of a phased/filtered vibe with electro-pad-sounding interjections. This track is a slow-melting mass of drums, feedback, and vocals much like the first track but it sounds like it’s in danger of imploding in on itself at any time. It’s like an unstable nucleus on wax. The Pus’s last entry is “The Black Whole” beginning drumless with a funky low-end synth loop and lots of pretty(!) layers of keyboard on top of it. Even without the drums the piece grooves endlessly (well, until the end groove). I love Chippendale’s drumming but he should totally explore this drumless area further, it’s a rad and different take on synth music. A classic side overall.
L.A. drum nuts Foot Village take the other side with two tracks of silly voices and some the most fiery drumming I’ve ever heard. The silly voices are actually really hilarious particularly the opening dialogue of “Race to the End of Food”, where a sinister sounding dude challenges a hungry guy to a race for food. Every time the guy says “me hungy”, it has me in stitches. However, this isn’t a comedy album (I think) and, as I mentioned, the drumming is ferocious. It reminds a bit of Ettrick in double drum mode but multiplied to the point where all the drumming becomes a blur. This track almost comes off like a noise record because of how all the fury of drums is built upon and matted on top of itself. A few brave souls attempt vocals but can’t really be heard above the volcanic din. My favorite part is a brief drum solo just before the race’s winner is announced, everyone claps and one sane individual in the room says “I can’t believe this is our song”. “420 (National Holiday)” fits in snugly with the classic Foot Village song format, and is one of the best examples of the format I might add. Excellent dynamic, polyrhythmic drumming and everyone contributing to the catchy four-part vocal chants. This too gives way to another hilarious skit about "The Celestial Bong". I usually am not down with stoner-based humor but it's pretty funny here. The female stoner voice is so pitch-perfect that I just lose it when she says “ohhh, that suuucks. I don’t know, maaan.” Another face melting/gut busting recording from the Foot Village.
Speaking of Foot Village they got a whole album of their own and it’s called Friendship Nation. It has been given the CD/LP treatment by UK’s Tome and Arizona’s Gilgongo respectively. The first side of the record is probably the most solid piece of Foot Village jamming I’ve heard. The tracks are kept lean and mean. The public urination law protest song (“Wherever you want, whenever you want, you have the right to go pee”) “Urination” announces the album’s arrival with a thunderous downpour of cymbal and toms before a rollicking rhythm takes shape. Foot Village sound tighter here than ever before, regarding both the drumming and chanting. Things keep rolling with “Crow Call”, which if I’m not mistaken, was released as a single. It makes sense cause it’s a really concise 2.5 minute distillation of the Foot Village sound. However, “Protective Nourishment” is hands down my favorite track on the album. It features a rather long build up of repetitive rhythms until the arrival of vocals and all sorts of complex rhythms start moving in different directions before returning for a breakdown. The second half of the track is total forward thrust with entwined but unified drum lines. I’m not sure whether to call it raw, primal sophistication or sophisticated, raw primitivism. I like the former better. “Narc Party (Let’s Make It Fucked Up)” with its chant of “Kill those narcs! Fuck those narcs!” reminds all that narcs are people just like you and me and like to party too. My favorite element of the track is the really fast background mantra of “Narc! Narc! Narc! Narc!”, which works as a great counterpoint to the more complicated pulses of the drumming.
The second side isn’t quite as solid but is still effective. “Erecting a Wall of Separation” begins with a weirdo vocal quartet, before drumming commences with a simple accompaniment to the mantra. The second part of the track erupts with a vigorous assault of polyrhythms, some of the best drumming on the record. The album’s default epic, “1998”, is another great track exhibiting the group’s talent for just hitting the drums like a bastard—though it’s interrupted by a cavernous telling of a sinking ship which crops up in the middle of track. “Materialist Crap” is a straight two minute jolt to the boogie center of yr brain, with mildly cryptic lyrics about materialist crap (hint: materialist crap? you get none of it). “.” finishes off the album. I really dig vocal-less fashion of the first portion because you can really lock in and get to zoning with the drums, this leads to a recording of someone playing a videogame or sports or something and people cheering(“Hit it motherfucker!”) and then drums segue back in for a while and then the piece ends with more of the recording in the middle of the track.
The CD version comes with 4 remixes as well. BIG A little a delivers a echoey, chopped-up version of “Protective Nourishment” before launching into a little electro diddy that sounds like an IDM ice cream truck to me. Silver Daggers take on “Narc Party”, the first minute or so sounds pretty much just like the original track but this gives way to a piling of short loops taken from the song. The last minute changes again to the song but with an extra “groove” switch flicked on. Tussle handles “1998” the remix sounds just on the verge of going Eurohouse for a while which is as bizarre as it sounds and then things turn dub-dance which you had to kinda expect from Tussle. (Anecdote: I was at a party the other night and there was this record nerd who lived at the house who cradled and admired his clear Tussle LP in the light for literally three minutes before putting it on the turntable. It was just so comical.) Aa, the Daggers and Tussle seem like usual, though not uninspired, choices for remixing this kind of affair so points to whoever called Robedoor to do a remix. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I believe this is a legit remix (gold star if it is) because it sounds more like a Robedoor recorded their own piece and mashed it with “Protective Nourishment” but it’s a cool track either way.
The Black Pus/Foot Village LP is sold out on DNT’s end (though I’d still recommend taking advantage of his killer 3-for-$15 vinyl deal) but Deathbomb Arc is still selling copies last I checked. The artwork is done by Chippendale and it’s an awesome bit of silk screen graffiti over a fold-out animal poster. Each one is different too, I got two cuddly tigers. As far as Friendship Nation is concerned both versions are readily available from Tome and Gilgongo. The remixes are fun but not essential so I’d say get whichever format you prefer.
I'll leave you with a quote I found to be particularly true and well-stated courtesy of Brian Chippendale on Noise for Obama: "Political non-participation in my social sphere often stems from not wanting to 'play the game.' But I’m pretty sure that if you are standing in a city, driving a car down a public road, emailing whoever for whatever, or eating food not grown within walking distance (and even then) you Are playing the game. Earth (and beyond) is the board, and it needs your help to stay a cool place to play."

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