COW / HUMAN ADULT BAND split tape (Phase! Records)

This short split tape between COW (Change Of Women) and Human Adult Band is a really great match up of approaches. I had seen Human Adult Band a long time ago (5 years) and was totally perplexed by them and immediately fell in love. I've kept up with some releases on DIHD and Bonetoothhorn and through a few of their lineup changes; they now incorporate King Darves on drums, Trevor Pennsylvania on Bass and Mike on guitar. I hadn't gathered much from them recently so when i saw this split i was real excited to hear what they've been up. The tape (probably 8 minutes a side) starts with really clean guitar, an almost out of tune bass and the drums mixed to the back of the sounds. A bit of a departure from the new brunswick basement sounds i remember from these guys- formerly sounding like they were covered in new jersey's finest grime and grit, this has a lot more an of an airy feel. But it's not a departure, they haven't gone nu metal, formed a jam band or started introducing dance routines. What was at the core of this group is still there, and we're all the better for it. They're exploring the fundamentals of music, they're operating in a 'band format' with drums, guitar, bass and vocals, there are semi-distinct parts and they stay in time with each other. For the most part. And there in lies the beauty. The bass sometimes misses notes, the vocals sound like the singer was catapulted over the rehearsal space, the mix is a little off sometimes (like during the guitar solo the guitar gets quieter- beautiful!!!) But in the end the guitar cleanly strums away the detritus like a broom does a broken lamp and instead of cleaning up after the house party, they tear down the shades, throw out the couch, scoop up the puke and sleep it off to start all over again, maybe next time covered in algae and earthworms.

Side Two is COW and they have a decidedly different atmosphere, it's not the glue huffing euphoria of Human Adult Band so much as blown out tire on a rumble strip. I don't know much about these guys and don't know if it's my journalistic duty to Google them before i write about them but i didn't want to color my review of them with internet rumor. Anyhow, they definitely share a love of questionable mixing choices (a good thing in my book!) leaving the vocals on some track almost inaudible where on others it's all you can hear. Definite nods to the classic groups of thrash/grindcore like Napalm Death and Carcass, especially in the vocals, while leaving enough room for their own sound to shine. While approaching blast beat speeds COW never loses their musicality, always staying within the parameters set up for the song, a welcome approach to a situation where it's so easy (and can sound so good) to just totally lose it and battle it out with your bandmates. There are some choice moments of heavy tempo changes from thrash beats slowly trudging down the steps into a total tar pit of unconsciousness, like you're being slowly clubbed into the darkness by each and every beat. Another favorite, and something i wish there was a little more of was the double vocals, the sounds of two guys losing molars screaming into a shitty mic is the best. There are 7 songs in this short outing all with a different enough flavor to keep you happily chewing the fat and when it's over, wanting more, even if it's giving you heart failure and you're losing vision in one eye.

Full color cover artwork doesn't really match up with the way either side made me feel, but not a bad looking tape.