an astringent lullaby: joe murray on muscletusk and xazzaz

June 22, 2013 at 9:55 am | Posted in new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Muscletusk – No Hink (2 x CD-r, Unverified Records, UN039)

Xazzaz – Untitled (CD-r, Molotov, Molotov 20)

muscletusk - no hinkxazzaz - untitled molotov 20

Muscletusk – No Hink

A double fucking album from Muscle fucking Tusk.  This jaunt takes the noise-band to a bunch more destinations with some extreme lo-fi aesthetics and short, sharp raps across the knuckles.

In my mind’s eye there is a little Hornby OO scale set of Muscletuck, delightfully detailed and set in their characteristic pose of wild abandon, just right for the Station Master’s office.  Why so?  Maybe it’s because so much of this ‘No Hink’ excursion seems to be an exercise in miniature?  Cast your mind back to a more innocent time when one childish distraction was for a newspaper to publish a picture of something small (say, a fly’s eye) then blow it up big so you could see all the little scales and hexagons.  It looked different all big didn’t it?  The detail was beautiful and unexpected – an unusual mixture.  Parts of this brave record sound like a tiny performance that has been expanded and enlarged to massive portions.  The scale and detail goes all squiffy and you’re left with an alien and decaying landscape; some things remain familiar yet strangely tweaked.

You want examples yeah?  Disc one opener ‘Rattray Rat Tray’ comes across like mid-period Chrome disguised in scratchy tweeds. ‘I found it in the piano’ sounds like hot sand riffling through a rubber sieve – but magnified 1000 times.  ‘From frozen’ takes a metallic rattle and stretches it out like a greasy ink smear across fresh linen.  Don’t worry, The Muscletusk still do the stun-volume-noise-avalanche…and do so with aplomb.  ‘Spare the fractal’ starts with all that moon-faced moaning but when the drums kick in…whoa boy!  It all gets super-hot and tight – badda-boom, badda-bing!

Disc two instantly stands to attention, rigid and trembling on ‘Cuthome Carethroat’ with a sense of an unstable intro looking for a staircase to hurl itself down.  ‘Bogus Specimen’ is hardcore, to the max, all the time, 24/7, oops-upside-your head rock ‘n roll; like a locked groove on the vinyl of the apocalypse.  The heavy industry continues with ‘Melk of the Steamtube’ as a gurning lathe turns, spirals of gleaming metal slice viciously through the frigid air.  ‘Night of the Hot Knives’ (my personal top pick!) zones in after the action has taken place; the debris is collected in scruffy pools and the dribbling has started in earnest.  It’s a total sponge-opera mang!  Slack-string guitar flops lazily around a fag-ash rainbow as people start to rouse themselves and collapsing machines are punched vigorously into life. After a time, all semblance of order is dropped through a hatch and drums and electronics lurch about, stamping heavily on your dreams, shattering them like dry spaghetti.

As with their last long longplayer (Ask the Universe on Braw Records) Muscletusk are still rockin’ but the rollin’ is coming with a distinctive lop-sided squint.  Noise is at least a decade old as a sub-genre and these good ole boys are taking their grimy noise footprints onwards to soil up another fresh pasture.  Take me with you Muscletusk!

Buy from Unverified Records here.

Xazzaz – Untitled

Mike Xazzaz regularly makes the long drive into Newcastle to support the no-audience underground and conjure dark, ugly music under a whole bunch of evil monikers.  But it’s beneath the ornate cloak of Xazzaz that this thirty-minute piece; constructed from (Buster Crabbe era) rocketship fizz and the best bits of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless played with power tools, that has been mussing up the stereo for the last few weeks.  So regular has been by airing of ‘Untitled’ Mrs Posset asked if this was one of my favourite domestic recordings of her mowing the lawn.  Close but no cigar!  (BTW – If you think me un-gallant letting her do all the manual work I just need to remind you that these records don’t review themselves bub!)

So, into the ‘Untitled’ zone we go!  First impressions come with the record sleeve itself…displaying a distressed circuit board design that hints of data malfunction and screaming machines.  Plop the silvery disc in and you’re pretty much assaulted from the off with the cool electric fizz of light sabres clashing.  Like I hinted before there is an accelerating rush to this (the Flash Gordon reference) and a melodic pitch-shifting that recalls those tremolo-heavy vibes from MBV…except this time the jazz electricity comes via belt sanders, floor polishers and hammer-action drills rather than sappy guitars.  The crashing continues, churning up plankton and hurling it on the zinc-coated rocks until, at around the 11 minute mark a large rusty anchor is thrown overboard and is dragged nosily (sic – it was more fun to keep the typo than correct it – RH) across a rocky sea bed.  Grrrgrgggrgggrgghhhhhh!   After a while your ear hairs can bristle no more and I had to settle back to accept this Black Metal take on Frippertronics as an astringent lullaby…in fact at 26 minutes in a woozy-sounding chrome bubble of feedback repeats on and on and on and on making me sleepy despite the high volume battering.  But this is no Harsh Noise chest-beating…the dynamics are tested at times with the loud and heavy electronic stew being peppered with thin metallic ‘pings’ giving a different focus and perspective on things.  Like when you walk down a familiar street at 4 am.  The exhaust-rattling whoosh of traffic is replaced by chirping birds recalibrating your ear-memory.

Towards the end of your allotted half hour, the dark soundworld begins to draw to a close with a teased out comedown that gently floats you direct into Buddha’s benevolent palm, all fat and beaming.  Om!

(Editor’s note: at the time of writing this isn’t yet up on the Molotov site but check it out and drop Mike a line to pre-order.)

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