GREY GUIDES “Beast Mask Supremacist”
(Crow Versus Crow)

Maybe it’s fortuitous that I’ve just returned from the dentist as I write this – my upper left gums are still numb, even – but man, I’m on track 2, “Millipede in a Doll’s House,” and I can’t shake that it’s really similar to what I’ve just experienced. My dentist is great – we get to listen to Pandora on Bluetooth headphones to block out the mania happening in our mouths – and today I listened to the classical music station while all that drilling was going on. Drill, air, suck, drill, adhere with ultraviolet bonding agents (!) – the noise and the music converge within my head and become a new, spontaneous composition, right there in the dentist’s office. If you’re a fan of music, in general, you listen for those moments, and you grab them and try to make sense of them if you can.

Let’s get it straight – I’m not saying Grey Guides sounds like a dentist’s drill in your head – far from that. What I’m interested in is the combination of noise sources with some sort of buried traditional instrumentation as a backbone, or even just the strict result of carefully crafted sound art. Whether sampled or not, some distorted guitar and/or bass can be found in “Millipede,” among other tracks, but the manipulation and experimentation of tracks like “One Eye Lower than the Other” and “Just Burned Down a Care Home,” where sounds are warped and layered to unsettling effect, are the stars of the awesomely titled Beast Mask Supremacist. What are these sources, and how are the deployed? No idea. That’s part of the fun.

I mean, “The Thing That Took the Ball Away” is a nightmare waiting to pry open your imagination (maybe in some sort of It-like game, speaking of all the clown chaos happening at the moment – current events!). It’s belligerently atonal, and there are muffled and indecipherable voices that pierce the madness here and there. Grey Guides even shows their hand somewhat on the half-obviously titled “Van Hoogstraten’s Big Pay-Back / Gorton Poltergeist Revisited,” on which spirits flutter and howl and terrorize until you’re a big goopy puddle of fear in the middle of your rec room (because you have a rec room in this scenario, for some reason). “Yoo Doo Rite / Mr Pharmacist” does the ol’ Shining bit one different, where instead of music from the 1920s piping in from another dimension through the haze, we get a bit of rock and roll doing the same thing. That makes more sense in this scenario – the ghost we perceive isn’t one to benignly observe; rather, we have to duck our heads and run for cover as it comes at us in a moment of great malevolence. Well, that’s just what I’m getting from the sonic combination – at least I’m cavity free at the moment, if I want to look on the bright side.

--Ryan Masteller