CAVE BEARS: “Horribble and Useless” c31 (Yod Tapes)

The entity that is the Cave Bears has been around for quite a while now, with a constantly rotating cast and a discography just as equal in variety, ranging from slowed down drone to acoustic boogaloo. This is, by far, my favorite release of theirs to date, and probably the closest representation of their “typical” live show. I put that word in quotes because when you go to see them, you never really know what you’re going to get. I hesitate to use the word “destructive”, but I think I’m okay with the word “messy”. I’ve seen them do everything from smash lightbulbs, pour mud across the floor, wear costumes made out of (operating) electric fans and (full) watering cans, and even bang on buckets while suspended upside-down from a tree while another member threw fireworks. So yeah, they’re a little all over the place, but they also have a general set-up of guitars and drums that they use more regularly, so even when it does lean towards being improvisational, you can usually tell it’s them.

There’s actually a surprising amount of differentiating composition on this tape, but it’s entirely cohesive. Cut-ups and samples flow freely and intermingle with original work very suitingly, foreign musicals laced through shrieking howls, guitar warbles, and a variety of squawking brass and harmonica. All of this is even edited at times, chopped & screwed on analog reels, still not upsetting the rhythm. There’s a large section of instrumentation that gets a little too calamitous for a little too long on side two, but that’s barely a beef, like a nuttier No-Neck Blues Band (bear in mind, I’m also notorious for preferring everything ultra-short). A solid starter for anyone looking to get into this band, or to prep them for their upcoming split LP with ID M Theft Able (who we all obviously can’t get enough of around here).