ROAD KILL “EAT” (SDM Records)


I’m already a little grossed out by the stylized flesh on the cover, cartoon flies added for effect, before I even pop in this tape. I don’t even know what to expect, but I’m already smelling it – that sweet, ripe, decaying odor that’s as revolting as it is familiar. If that’s the flesh of a skunk, then there’s an additional olfactory element. Let’s just say it doesn’t do the already-pungent mélange any favors.

This is all before “Tit Tat” even gets ten seconds into itself. The violently low synth bass reverberates throughout my whole body, like Road Kill – the band, not the item – has been perched on my chest, sitting there until this very moment, ready to rip an intense series of farts until I’m convulsing in distress and choking on yet another scented accoutrement to this whole thing. The fact that this is even called EAT has me running to the nearest toilet and heaving up whatever little is left in my stomach, while Roadkill cackles maniacally from where I’ve shoved them, continuing to utterly destroy the atmosphere around them with their anal explosions. 

Ten seconds in, people.

Beyond that, Roadkill cooks up a particularly nasty strain of synth-punk, indebted to Suicide, Skinny Puppy, and Butthole Surfers. And while you may never want to eat again after this noxious mini-album, you’ll certainly be going back for seconds on EAT.

(I’m so lame.)



--Ryan

DOG DOG “Beware of the Dog Dog” C30 (Reserve Matinee)


I’m tempted to translate everything I say here into dog (“Arf, arf arf arf arf, arf arf”), but I’m not sure how many of you would get that. Plus, I’d have to do it twice: Dog Dog, twice twice. But despite the fact that Ed Stuparitz, the Dog Dog person, has dedicated this release “to everyone who’s filled my bowls & gone on walks with me” and has titled these tunes “Smell the Flowers” and “Ruff Stuff,” there’s very little dog-related action – frolicking, wagging, sniffing, drooling – on Beware of the Dog Dog. That’s probably fine. I like dogs, but not a whole tape of dog stuff.

Out of the gray fog trill synth runs, trickle ambient chords, wash sheets of static. It’s all very tender and heartfelt, perhaps a betrayal of Stuparitz’s frame of mind. Perhaps from the perspective of the dog, then, we’ll gather and report: an unceasing optimism? A drifting curiosity? Side B drops some rhythm, some definite melody, like a brilliant afternoon in a spring park chasing balls and Frisbees and smelling other dogs’ butts. Remember – dog perspective. There is nothing more generally enjoyable than cavorting in the sun, the smell of the grass in the air, the youthful pulse of adrenaline and blood and oxygen. Dog Dog connects the dots from animal to human and back again, and lives freely and genuinely in the space of understanding between pet and owner, and thus lays the foundation for that same understanding among human beings, one to another.



--Ryan

P. GALLAGHER “Soundtracks” C40 (Hot Releases)


Soundtracks:

·       To the history of what happened beneath the wagon wheel lamp.
·       To broken stuff jutting out of the water on a cold, autumn day.
·       To fences and gates rusting amid the weather.
·       To predators and prey and the eternal dance.
·       To ancient organs tuning themselves in the dark.
·       To the early morning as dockworkers show up for their shifts.
·       To the discovery of a secret door in a brick façade.
·       To spilled soup slowly dripping in an abandoned kitchen.
·       To a straight razor slowly slicing away at a working radio.
·       To the night not ending.


--Ryan

CRANK STURGEON / MATT LUCZAK “Crank Sturgeon / Matt Luczak Split” C23 (Orb Tapes)


That misfit Crank Sturgeon is at it again, this time bringing his mangled performance noise to Orb Tapes, where he totally belongs. Crank Sturgeon’s on side A. The B-side is offered up (like a ritual sacrifice) to Matt Luczak, who has “saved pretty much every loop [he’s] ever made.” That’s impressive! And lucky for us, we get them ALL here, “spliced together in a non-looping, linear track.” Yes, Matt, we WILL enjoy!

Crank-master S bloodies our noses with “A Stevening Teethe (Eating Leaves),” a frequency blast of industrial hum and agitation mixed with smeared-into-the-pavement voices that pulsates in vibrational patterns that leave you feeling like you were hearing them from the inside of an old-timey diving helmet. But here’s guessing that you’re not wearing one of those; still, imagine sentient static hollowing out the trunk of an oak tree that’s grown straight through the middle of your head, and maybe you get the idea. You’ve been chewing on the leaves for sustenance anyway, haven’t you? That’s all there is, crunching dumbly in your ever-moving goat-mouth. I’m not real pleased with you right now, you know. That’s why Crank Sturgeon’s doing this. He owes me a favor.

Matt Luczak might owe us all a favor, that’s all I can come up with for this weirdly generous and generously weird compilation of freakish loops. I mean, “Salvaged Loops” (cute!) is all over the place – I can’t even begin to describe them or document the building blocks really, although that does seem to be my job at the moment as music writer guy. There’s a lot of noisy blurts and shredded rhythms (in fact, dropping in at a random point on the track usually seems to suggest sculpted mic feedback), but there’s also a lot of surprise moments, like vocal tics, techno asides, blinking computer functionality, smudged ballroom dancing lessons, and random radio spins. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, because there’s really no way to predict any of the madness. You go, Matt!




--Ryan

HEALTHY REALISM “Baby Geniuses III” C40 (International School of Evidence)


Oh, hey, yeah, this is one of those free jazz ones, the improv recordings where the duo or trio or quartet or quintet or sextet or septet gathers together in a room, huddles, and blows the doors off with a massive racket. It’s the kind of explosion of uninhibited imagination that I pretty much dig on the daily. That’s jazz lingo for “everyday,” or “whenever.”

Here we have Max Senteney on drums, Alex Colombo on guitar, and James McKain on tenor and soprano saxophone. The performance was recorded live at Dirty Dungarees in Columbus, Ohio, on September 21, 2018. Was I there? No. Was I there in spirit? Absolutely.

I finished this tape and was huffing and puffing and trying to catch my breath like I was blowing a horn up in this thing myself. But I wasn’t, I was just white-knuckling the arms of my chair as I hovered on the edge of my seat. That’s what Senteney and Colombo and McKain do: they make you a nervous wreck as they rip notes from the very crust of the Earth itself and whing ’em about the room so you have to duck in order not to get smashed in the melon with their sonic shrapnel.

Also, the saxophone sometimes sounds like a duck, and that made me happy.




--Ryan