How hard is it to describe how this record sounds? Well, the first draft of this review included the word “morphy.”
Guitarist Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion, synth-programmer Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails and singer Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan collaborated on this five-song EP that defies all labels, other than “experimental.” It’s a sound made not by instruments, but by machines, and one that seems almost deliberately difficult to listen to. However, while the electronic assault can be hard on the ears, it also can play a few tricks on them.
The EP starts with “Nothing’s Working,” a frantic hyper-electric techno number reminiscent of Prodigy. The song features vocals that gradually and unexpectedly blur into indefinable machine noises, a trick that shows up on a few of the tracks.
“Homicide” is a little funkier, with clearer vocals and a synthesizer riff that is the only thing on the record even close to catchy. (It’s also pretty damn close to the riff from NIN’s “Closer.”) “Burn in Hell” is powered by a thumping, monotonous bass beat with screeching vocals and laser sounds on top, and includes a break for a clear bell refrain that sounds sampled from department store background music. It’s actually pleasant in the middle of the cacophony of the rest of the song – then it blurs into distortion and everything goes crazy again.
“Brains Out” is memorable for a short segment that sounds like a choked, distorted demon voice speaking unintelligibly. But when the voice starts skipping and repeating, you realize it’s not a voice at all, just another electronic creation. And then you realize that for the last few seconds you’ve also been hearing the sounds of a woman who is either in the midst of orgasm or is damn close.
Each of these songs brings pure chaos, then a taste of order and clarity, then somehow surprise when they deteriorate into chaos again. It makes a statement – but one you’ll only want to hear once in a while.
[Travis Hunter can safely put his cornbread cravings at bay… for now.]