Tuesday, June 10, 2014

HUNNIE BUNNIES "Pizza Clown"
(Anonymous Dog)

Someone stumbling upon Hunnie Bunnies in a random basement could be forgiven for assuming this band would be more style than substance, more performance than music. The Johnsons – Mark and Jeff – dress in nightgowns and splatter themselves in green paint before freaking out with fucked up beats on broken equipment and tense little throbs of sound, throwing themselves around and through the audience with little regard for anything but spectacle. This sort of thing has become a kind of trope in the noise scene, with a a whole subset of bands that can be defined more readily by their performance antics than the music that accompanies them (think Contortionist Jazz Exotica, Yohimbe, Sylvester Alone, etc.). And while some of these acts make sounds as compelling as their performances I rarely find myself wishing I had their newest tapes (the aforementioned acts being among those whose sounds absolutely live up to the spectacle).

What separates Hunnie Bunnies from this subculture-within-a-subculture is their emphasis on beats and the ways in which they use rhythm as a major factor in their sounds, no matter how fucked or far out those sounds can be. Anything becomes music if it happens to a beat, right?

These former Boston noise heads reigned as some of the most active members of that city's underground scene for several years before Jeff moved to Philly 2 years ago. Mark stuck around a little longer, curating the Raw Meet noise/performance series that became a major outlet for Boston's noise freaks to get turned on to acts from other similar cultures all down the East Coast. Now Mark has made the move to Philly as well, and the Johnsons are reunited in brotherly love, but they recorded this tape for Peter Negroponte's Anonymous Dog label in Boston's hallowed Whitehaus when they were living apart in May 2012.

This tape illuminates the process by which Hunnie Bunnies get to the point of the sonic and spatial freakout that's become their trademark. The first side focuses on the spacier side of their sound; the interstitial moments when they're gathering up energy for the strange storm they're about to unleash on an eager basement – starting with ambient brushes and tonal throbs into places of sparse percussion and fuzz through distorted vague vocals. Lots of building. Then halfway through side two, everything changes. Where before all the energy had been a tense but sparse arrangement of rattles and hums, suddenly it's as if all that was just making sure all the elements worked before busting them out all at the same time in a cacophonous clusterfuck of raw sonic energy.

With the boys back together in the land of liberty, lord only knows what can be coming next. It's been a while since they've had time to get together and actually get down to business figuring out what they want Hunnie Bunnies to be. Word is they're working on more thoroughly composed pieces and even...songs?! Who knows? No matter what the future holds, this tape stands as a pretty fine document of the inbetweentimes when the boys were living in different cities and getting together every now & then to jam out in their wheelhouse of weird sonic chaos.

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--Conrad Benjamin

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