Overcast and portentous, Brian Case's Spirit Design lurches. Rolling in like an oversaturated cloud formation swallowing anything from charred synths and shivering sub-bass into its its blackened atmospherics, Case's latest full-length for Hands in the Darkthreatens to collapse under its own yawning depth and smothering weight. In this totalizing sound environment, Case evacuates melody, structure, and legibility, leaving only the cold and brutal sparseness of his voice and devastating instrumentation to populate the noxious territory. But even Case's voice succumbs to this airless sound sludge: on "Shipbuilding," for example, Case's intelligible—if ominous—words bleed into incomprehensibility as the song's suffocating logics ooze out of control. On later tracks, like "Control" and "Say Your Name," his voice can only eke out the titles of the songs themselves in an arcane incantation that condenses speech and meaning into noise, into effacing squalor. On Spirit Design, Case unleashes a singularly enveloping haze of sound and mood so thick it's impossible to hear your own breath. Like other forms asphyxiation, it's orgastic.
Spirit Design is available August 25 on Hands in the Dark.
Sometimes, the ordinary can be infectious. On "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G," the sparkling bonus track off Moon King's latest tape for Arbutus, standard kicks, punchy bass, and a earworming piano melody play out along a familiar house thump. In the hands of a less capable producer, such an assemblage could run derivative or fall flat, but under Daniel Benjamin's delicate direction, each element whirs into place and delivers an intoxicatingly coordinated performance. Accompanying the addictive pulse of the track is a video that also succeeds in summoning a satisfying simplicity.
Much like the song itself, whose ordinary components come from a stock milieu but—when locked into the groove—enliven and thrum in ecstasy, the video for "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G" is situated in a blank, unremarkable room. But what sticks is what populates the room: bodies in motion, perfectly attuned yet letting loose to the banger that galvanizes their movement. Shots of sweat and silk, tattoos and tanktops twirl across the visual register under a layer of VHS fuzz. Far from muffling or obscuring the dynamic magnetism of the beat and the dancing, the coating of chintz captures the hazy trace, the blur of motion in itself. It's precisely this motility, this singular capacity to stimulate movement, that textures the corporeal sonics of "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G."
In a song ostensibly about the desire for an extraordinary lover, Benjamin and Natty G suffuse the track with a sensuous desire to move, to dance. In the very articulation of his desire, Benjamin has crafted a genuinely seductive song—and awakened the listener's desire, too. As the track plonks along, music becomes more than just an expression, a communicatory pathway: it becomes somatic. It becomes satisfaction. When Natty G sings that she's "tired of all the cream without the cherry," it's hard not to think of the track itself, a bonus track, after all, as a cherry on top, a visceral delight that gets stuck in your gums well after it putters out. What's the best way to work off a sundae, anyway? Dance it off.
Check out Benjamin's newest tape Hamtramck '16 out now, andmake sure to dance with Moon King when he performs September 8 at The Silent Barn with Dougie Poole.
The human body is a theater of war, a site wracked with violence and desire. In the video for "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the second track off of VIOLENCE's upcoming Human Dust to Fertilize the Impotent Garden, a certain body—that of VIOLENCE's Olin Caprison—situates the writhing interplay and intertwining of the two. Garbed in lacy lingerie and a disfigured ski mask, Caprison smears two pregnant signifiers together, grafting the criminality of headpiece and the sultry, oversexed salacity of the bra into symbolic prostheses that map violence and desire onto the smudged red lipstick on Caprison's face. But the visual poetics of the tracks video aren't the only indicators of this prurient conflation: Caprison's lyrics are positively filthy. Pleading, they detail fantasies of degradation and animalization, where the intimacy of "want[ing] for you to hold me close" gives way to "whip[ping]," "cover[ing] in spunk," verbal abuse, and even "giv[ing Caprison] a reason to die." And the semantic distinctions between violence and desire aren't the only things Caprison blurs: the song itself appropriates sounds from industrial, black metal, and drill to sculpt its asxphyxiatory and percussive filigrees. The glinting, limpid tones that buttress the basic but anxious melody wouldn't be out of place on Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Akira soundtrack. But unlike Akira, a science-fiction thriller that defers its anxieties into an animated future, Caprison confronts a brutal present. As they pound their flesh on the concrete floor of the shack in the video, naked and sexualized vulnerability putrefies—before our eyes—into pain, clot, bruise: Caprison historicizes the present in unflinchingly exposing the disintegration of desire into violence, touch into assault. The setting of this curdling is burnt-out, graffitied and decrepit, but it's present, it's really there. It isn't post-apocalyptic—isn't even doctored. It's real life, not a horrific possibility, but an always-already vitiated present. Despite the trap-conditions, Caprison leaves us with the potential for escape: in the final, fading shot, they turn and walk out of the frame, out of the immediate and battered present and into an unseen space beyond the limits of what appears possible.
Brooklyn-based duo Eaters are following up their self-titled debut this April on Dull Tools, but in the meantime they’ve focused their efforts on their ambient record, Prisms. Full of minimalist tones, Prisms oscillates between hopeful and buoyant swells to eerie and confounding synths. The transportive soundtrack was created to accompany "Eyes Have Brightened,” an installation of sound and light sculptures at Knockdown Center in Queens. The New York premiere of the immersive installation “Moment of Inertia” will be part of Knock! Knock! Down! Down!, and upcoming multimedia event curated by Parquet Courts on December 10, with additional gallery hours through the following week. You can catch “Moment of Inertia” on Sunday December 11, Saturday December 17, and Sunday December 18 at 2, 4, and 6 PM.
Stream Prisms below. More info on their installation can be found on their Facebook event here.
NYC noise rock outfit Clean Girls recently released Despite You, their latest LP on Accidental Guest Recordings (who’ve put out albums from Jail Solidarity, Dark Blue, and Roomrunner, among others). “No New Friends” is a track from the new record (don’t worry it’s not a Drake cover). It spills out like a desperate, adrenaline-fueled sprint made on shattered ankles, powerfully distorted but feeling like the slightest breeze could blow it all away. Today they premiere a video for it, built off spooky intimacy— almost voyeuristic shots of casual, familial privacy. It’s a strangely touching counterpoint to the song’s frenzied presence. You can stream the video above.
Denver, CO psych rockers Tjutjuna released their Desert Song CS single earlier in the year, but the new music video by Mark Demolar gives the delicate, beatific number a new dimension. The track, which remains rooted in the earth while simultanously soaring through the heavens, is accompanied by the beautiful colors of the desert scenery that inspires the group. Stay tuned for news of their sophomore LP which is currently in production and check out the video after the jump.