Posts Tagged ‘IPecac Records’

Ipecac Recordings – 23rd November 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Planet B finds Justin Pearson – of Dead Cross, Retox, and more bands and projects than even he could probably name – pair up with hip-hop producer Luke Henshaw. The result is a gloriously mangled hybrid of punk and hip-hop that’s more in the vein of the crossover collaborations that featured on the Judgement Night soundtrack than anything thrown up subsequently by nu-metal or anything else that’s followed. No doubt this is something Ipecac head honcho Mike Patton considered when the album landed with the label, having delivered the belting ‘Another Body Murdered’ with Faith No More in collaboration with Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. back in ’93.

Having spent what seems like forever criticising people for becoming fogeys prematurely and becoming locked in an era that corresponds with their late teens / early twenties and bemoaning the fact that there’s no new music that’s any good, I’ll confess with no small disappointment that just typing that gave me a major pang of nostalgia, and that I haven’t listened to any mainstream or chart music in about eight years now, and I really don’t know who’s who or what the kidz are listening to now (and although I have been subjected to ‘What Does the Fox Say?’, Pingfong’s ‘Baby Shark Dance’ and ‘Skibidi’ by Little Big, I’m not sure how representative these are of anything). But the notion that there’s no new music that’s any good is patent bollocks. The fact of the matter is there’s more good new music emerging now than ever before – it’s just a matter of taste and knowing where to find it. Ipecac, it has to be said, are pretty consistent as a source of things both noisy and strange, and while the styles and forms may not be entirely predictable, the quality usually is. Planet B’s eponymous debut is illustrative, and while it’s new music with roots in older music, it still doesn’t sound quite like anything else current.

Political and pissed off, Planet B is an album with attack, taking not the mellowed out doped-up end of hip-hop but presents a fiery force-for-change antagonism that’s more Body Count or Beastie Boys at their best. As one would reasonably expect from an act featuring Justin Pearson, the result isn’t pretty, but it is pretty intense, and ‘Crustfund’ makes for a strong start: deep, pounding hip-hop beats and snarling synths provide the backdrop to an uncompromising and aggressive vocal courtesy of Kool Keith, (one of a roll-call of inspired guests featured on the album).

Things take a turn for the more direct and driving with the fast-paced pulsating groove of ‘Join a Cult’ – the backing sounds like Sigue Sigue Sputnik, while the vocals are a pure punk whooping holler, brimming with anger and nihilism. ‘Manure Rally’ and ‘Come Bogeyman’ are also thunderous stompers reminiscent of Ministry (the latter featuring the percussive talents of Martin Atkins), and big mid-tempo beats and dense, looping low-end are one of the defining features of the album as a whole. This certainly contributes to providing Planet B with a sense of cohesion – which is much-needed given its eclecticism.

Like many, I’m wary of covers of songs I really, really like, and am often heart howling in despair ‘Sacrilege! How could they do that?’ or, conversely, ‘why did they bother? It doesn’t do anything different.’ The cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Never Let Me Down’ is unexpected – slowed down, stripped down, it’s brutal and ugly – and quite outstanding.

Although the production is significantly cleaner and the overall, and the vibe altogether less violent, Planet B shares shouty, sneering, snotty common ground with Uniform’s The Long Walk. And as The Long Walk is one of my favourite albums of the year (despite its relentless fury and clanging noise invariably leaving me physically and emotionally drained and with a headache), it’s a big thumbs up for Planet B.

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Ipecac Recordings – 4th August 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

According to the band’s biography, ‘Dead Cross emerged out of a series of impractical schemes, fallen-through plans, and last-minute musical experimentation. Shows were scheduled before a single song was written, fans were formed before even one show was played. The chaos of its creation seems apt; after all, the band is comprised entirely of artists who have thrived playing tightly-coiled turmoil—intelligent dissonance disguised as disorder.’ None of this is surprising, given the co-conspirators who make up Dead Cross – namely Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson, Michael Crain, and Mike Patton. On paper, it’s a recipe for sonic mayhem. And that’s precisely what Dead Cross delivers.

It’s fast, furious and frenetic from the first bar. ‘Seizure and Desist’, recently unveiled as a video single, kicks it off in spectacularly explosive style and sets both the tempo and the tone. It’s a snarling, furious assault. It’s brutal and deranged, and yet it gloriously melodic, with a chorus and a hook that’s almost chartworthy.

Dead Cross is intense. Loud. Hard. Fast. Mental. Throw Faith No More, Pantera, Strapping Young Lad and The Wildhearts in a blender and you’re in the vicinity.

On one hand, this is a proper, old-school thrash album. On the other, it’s got Mike Patton all over it. Since forever, Patton has demonstrated a unique style and an even more unique sense of theatricality and melody. Unique, in that he’s able to incorporate these elements into the most incongruous and unexpected musical contexts, and successfully. Certainly, his immense vocal range and versatile delivery is a key factor, but there’s far more to Dead Cross – the band and the album – than once man. It’s all about the disparate parts and how they melt together to create something distinctly different. There’s no one dominant aspect here: this is a true collaboration, and all the more intensely insane because of it.

In the hands of pretty much any other band, thrash or other, the cover of ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ would be both shit and pointless. But Dead Cross fill it with violent menace while retaining the finely-balanced drama of the original – and condense it all into two and a half minutes by pummelling it out at a hundred and fifty miles per hour and driving it along with a dirty, gritty as fuck bassline overlaid with heavily processed vocals. The end result is bloody brilliant.

Dead Cross is relentless and brutal. The shrieking venom of ‘Grave Slave’ is a grinding churn of guitars propelled by nonstop blastbeats. ‘Church of the Motherfuckers’ closes the album off with a throbbing chug, and, while slower, brings Patton’s capacity for flamboyant theatricality to the fore, while diminishing for fevered attack not one iota.

Often, I’m given to criticise so-called supergroup projects for failing to produce anything even as great, let alone greater than the sum of the parts. But it’s the fact that Dead Cross have produced an album that is precisely the sum of the parts which makes it such a belter.

Dead Cross Cover