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3 years ago
The first Vulture Club cd-r was the ultimate man vs. machine battle royale, with the machine winning. A record where the instruments called the shots, an army of guitars and amplifiers, marching across a blackened bloody battlefield littered with the corpses of musicians, the masters now bone and blood, the guitars and amps allowed to ring out, reverberate, to unfurl epic swaths of rumbling, crumbling feedback flecked drone. And we loved it!This disc normally retails for $14.98, but if you order it from our website and mention "VULTURE CLUB $5 OFF BLOG SPECIAL" in the comments field of the order form, we'll let you have it for only $9.98 - five dollars off! While supplies last, of course.
The ultimate doomdrone sound, no riffs, no rhythms, just the sound of steel strings vibrating, amplified, played back at incredible volume, in turn causing the strings to vibrate, and the cycle continued... Another one of those sounds that is practically perfect unadorned, we could listen to an E chord ringing out through a wall of Marshall stacks FOREVER. But at some point, the amps and guitars that make up Vulture Club, decided more could be done with their buzz and drone, so they did the unthinkable, they recruited players, musicians, they chose not to give up their freedom, but to work together with their former masters, to create a new world of sound, a world where the guitars and the amplifiers were still in control, but the musicians were able to coax certain sounds from the guitars, to gently bend necks, stretch strings, fret certain notes, and thus, we have Live Young, Die Fast And Leave An Exquisite Corpse. The sound is still dronedirgedoomsludge but just like the debut, that sound is stretched to its absolute limit, a soundworld where notes and chords mean less than timbre and tone, melody is supplanted by power, you can feel the sound more than hear it. BUT, for this new disc (a real cd this time), the action ante has been upped just a bit. Instead of letting the guitars just buzz endlessly, the droning distortion is more dynamic, with percussive attacks, and extended decays, notes and chords barely visible in their flatlined form, the sound pulsates and throbs, creating unintentional rhythms, guitars unleash simple tones which are wrapped in layer after layer of distortion, and allowed to slowly crumble to bits, revealing all the secret tonal color inside. It's all very subtle, this still sounds like a room full of amps cranked to ten, with guitars run through distortion pedals and leaned up against the amps, the sound a glorious low end cacophony, but repeated listening, deep listening, reveals an amazing amount of subtle sonic variation beneath the glacial whirs and buzzing blur. Vulture Club is the sound of SUNNO)))'s and Earth's colliding, the music of black holes, the sound of guitar and amplifier joined in the unholiest of unions, an absolutely glorious sound indeed!
For the last 14 years, New Zealander Stefan Neville has been issuing a steady stream of cassettes, lathe-cuts, cd-rs, 7"s and other assorted slabs of mysterious small-run skronk under the Pumice moniker. Somehow through it all Neville has managed to find a comfortable spot nestled in between two very distinct strains of NZ music-making. At their heart, the songs he writes are pop songs obviously indebted to the legacy of Flying Nun, The Tall Dwarves and The Clean; that said, his willful disregard for fidelity, his love of tape hiss, wow and flutter, garbled vocals and blasts of harsh drone are a tip o' the hat to kiwi noiseniks like Birchville Cat Motel, Dead C, and Antony Milton. It's a compelling combination, as it allows his records to be both densely textural and supremely melodic - for every piece of blown out headphone candy, there's a memorable vocal or frighteningly catchy guitar riff. It's this incredible tug-of-war between (as we put it in our review) "doleful drone" and "sheer pop umph" that made us flip out over the last Pumice full-length, Pebbles, and we're happy to report that Neville's latest, Quo, finds him refining the Pumice formula in all the best possible ways to create a record full of impish charms, slack anthems, rambling bedrooms hiss, and speaker fried drone assaults!The instore is this Tuesday, September 8th, at 6pm. Be there!!
Quo opens with "Pumice Quo," a song that hints at what is to come on the rest of the album: fuzzed-out, atonal guitars klang and skree like some sort of netherworldly faux-sitar over a ragged, swinging stomp that effortlessly mutates back and forth with a breezy, expansive, half-time swagger. Rhythmically and structurally it's all angular and math-y but it never sounds cold or analytical - it's like some incredible mix of Doc At The Radar Station and Celebrate The New Dark Age where you can't tell if it's Beefheart covering Polvo or vice versa, but everything sounds perfectly fucked up and damaged but so inexplicably catchy at the same time. Likewise, "World with Worms," a creeping, rumbling, blown-out, billowing sea shanty that mixes Neville's signature, mannered (almost goth, really) vocals with a teetering melody pounded out on some sort of half-broken chord organ or accordion.
The first half of the record continues to cast a few different lines - "Fort" sounds like some sort of classic mid-'90s B-side pop anthem you'd expect from GBV or Boyracer buried under 10 feet of shrieking keyboard noise; "Thermos in the Studio" is a winsome bedroom pop instrumental that would sound right at home buried amongst the ruins of Pavement's Westing (By Musket and Sextant) with lyrical slide guitar melodies that are simple, gorgeous and over in an instant; "Pebbles" is 2 minutes of rambling, shuffling, ramshackle pop. However, everything starts to come together with the second half of the record, as "Whole Hoof" looks back to the Polvo/Beefheart battle royale of the album opener but this time ads layers of distorted howling vocals. It starts out like Simply Saucer plowing through some freaked out rockabilly jam but mutates into something completely creepy and sinister at the end.
The album's second half is incredibly strong and manages to focus the scattershot elements of the first half without sacrificing any of those songs' chimpy playfulness. There's a darker element that emerges, but it never overwhelms the whole proceedings. "Sick Bay Duvet" starts out like a lost Fahey side being played back on a broken down gramophone, all rumbling, twanging, echoing, and slightly out of tune. When drums, melodica and a low, throbbing drone finally kick in at the end, it changes into something completely different - a kind of dour, anti-anthem that leads perfectly next track, "Dogwater," whose warbling, garbled take on Blackheart Procession's western goth vibe manages to come as both tongue-in-cheek and gracefully mannered. Things get stronger still with the last three songs: "Heavy Punter" is a solemn funeral shuffle built around a fractured Beefheart/Polvo riff filled out by ghostly keyboards that woosh and drone in and out of the background and fantastic, layered, pseudo-goth vocal stylings; "Battersby" is almost like Pumice's stab at punk rock with Casio tweeters battling against four on the floor drums and stumbling, disaffected vocals that wouldn't sound out of place on a Fall record (the whole thing comes across like some weird mashup of a NZ cd-r salvo and something off of a Messthetics comp - bizarrely catchy and certainly one of our favorites!); and album ender "Beak Remedy" is 7 minutes of blissed out, see-saw chord organ drone, ghostly tape loops, fluttering, stuttering ambient flickers of feedback, hum and hiss with percussive clomps that sneak in toward the end until the whole thing trickles out with choppy puffs of feedback and static.
All this adds up to a brilliant mix of pop songwriting and freaked out fuzzmongering that has been perking the ears of both customers and staff since it first arrived. We're confident that Quo is going to show up on many of our year end best-of lists, and we think you'll feel the same way about this blissed-out, smashed to pieces, melodic, thoughtful, mannered, playful and thoroughly recommended record!
September 19th & 20th
San Francisco, CA
Curated by Root Strata
Sponsored by Aquarius Records
Hosted by The Swedish American Hall & Cafe DuNord
Tickets available at cafedunord.com
LIMITED FESTIVAL PASSES available for $35! Available only by calling Cafe DuNord box office (mon-fri, 2pm-6pm: 415-861-5016) to purchase over the phone!!
Otherwise you also can purchase tickets to each show at the door, if it hasn't sold out. Or get 'em in advance, in person here at Aquarius - for those there's a dollar service charge in addition to the prices listed below...
Sunday, September 20th
The Swedish American Hall
Common Eider, King Eider
Saturday, September 19th
Keith Fullerton Whitman
Operative (Scott Goodwin)
Saturday, September 19th
The Swedish American Hall
William Fowler Collins
Danny Paul Grody