Posts Tagged ‘Nefarious Industries’

Nefarious Industries

Christopher Nosnibor

Less than two years after the release of the ambient avant-jazz oddity that was CCXMD (that’s not some random Roman numeralisation, but Cinema Cinema X Matt Darriau (The Klezmatics), the New York duo return for round two of their collaboration with the astutely-titled CCXMDII.

Let’s get the spoiler out of the way up front and early: they couldn’t have shifted further from their noise roots, and there really isn’t an overloading guitar riff in the whole album. If CCXMD was avant-jazzy and ambient, CCXMDII is avant-jazzier and more ambient. Having laid the foundations previously, it’s not so much of a shock, but anyone hoping for a return to their riffier roots will be disappointed by this weirdy, spaced-out experimental work.

It contains but seven tracks, although three of them are over ten minutes in duration, including the eighteen-minute opener ‘A Life of its Own’, which was unveiled as the album’s lead single a couple of weeks ago. And here, Cinema Cinema push further still than on their previous album, with those seven tracks bleeding together to forge one, vast continuous piece.

It begins tentatively, with tremulous, trilling woodwind and some scratchy strumming. Sounds echo and reverberate and voices mumble in a blurred, slowed, hallucinated state that’s most unsettling, and slowly transitions from some shilled, chiming new-age desert vibe into an increasingly bad trip as unintelligible jabbering spits and slurs angrily against the warping backdrop and swelling percussion – and that’s before the crazed jazz horns begin to bray and parp.

There are definite ebbs and flows, but not necessarily correspondent with the transitions between the tracks, and ponderous guitar and trepidatious woodwind teeter precariously through ‘Continued’, which is less of a piece in its own right than a bridge toward the nine-minute ‘Bratislava’. Guitars scrape and the drums stutter and test the waters and levels, and it actually sounds like a band checking their levels between songs during a live show than anything. There are some exploratory post-rock moments, but they’re fleeting, and even when the rhythm section finds a groove, it’s but for a short time and ultimately frustrating and unsatisfying, chopping and changing in a mathy fashion – which is fine in itself, but for the lack of a resolution, a crescendo, a finish. Instead, it peters out and squeaks and toots into the next piece.

The trilling woodwind – pan-pipes or similar – are all over the meandering piece and while the percussion rolls, the guitar is pegged back to providing mere texture, and there is no question that the band have shunned pretty much all ‘rock’ trappings here. The raspy, chthonic vocal whispering and manic hollering returns, before it trickles down into ‘Crack of Dawn’ with its stop / start arrhythmic percussion, hovering drones and eerie formlessness.

It’s not until the penultimate track that we get power chords. There is silence, briefly, before ‘Trigger’, which is unexpectedly led by a stop/start drum and hesitant bass groove that eventually emerges as a core motif. Imagine Shellac with brass instead of vocals, and you probably get the idea. It locks into a motoric krautrock groove – but that freewheeling wild horn action is something else. It brings chaos, it brings discord, riding wild all over some wild improv.

CCXMDII isn’t an easy album, and it’s not the punk or guitar-led set some may have expected. But it is a bold, daring work, one that sees a band who don’t give a fuck about conventions or expectations demonstrating that lack of fucks musically. Every band says they’re making music for themselves, but hardly any mean it. These guys do. CCXMDII is also a wonderfully odd abstract soundscapes that drifts and meanders and entertains and perplexes. CCXMDII is the work of a band in continual evolution, and long may that evolution continue.

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New York experimental art punk duo Cinema Cinema continues their partnership with Nefarious Industries for the upcoming late August release of their new album, CCXMDII. Alongside the album’s cover art, track listing, and more, the lead single ‘A Life Of Its Own’ has been posted alongside preorders.

With a running time past 18 minutes, ‘A Life Of Its Own’ is no conventional single. Get your lugs round it here:

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Nefarious Industries – 1st November 2019

The one thing that’s been consistent about experimental noise-rock duo Cinema Cinema across their previous releases has been their capacity to confound expectation. Their freeform approach to rock has always made them hard to place in a fixed sense, although Sonic Youth and Live Skull are reasonable references against which to pitch their guitar-driven racket that’s been given to stray into expansive space rock workouts.

Each release has ventured into different stylistic territory, at least at points, and while 2017’s Man Bites Dog did bring some sax into the mix, they’ve predominantly maintained a no-wave rock focus – until now. With CCXMD they cut the cord that holds any ties to the conventions of rock to go all-out on the freeform, and this time it’s jazz. Not even jazz-rock, but a weirdy, off-the-wall, jazz oddity with swirling ambient currents. CCXMD is a genuine ‘wtf?’ release.

Where are the guitars? And words? There are practically no vocals, and the vocals there are, are mangled and so low in the mix they’re barely audible. There are guitars, but they’re practically absent on the first two tracks – short, semi-ambient fragments – and when they do finally appear on the third track, ‘Colours’, it’s more the sound of tuning up, accompanied by pan-pipes and with stuttering percussion that lollops and rolls and crashes chaotically without ever taking form. You’re on the edge of your seat waiting for something – you don’t even really know what – but you don’t get it. It’s hard to tell what you actually do get.

‘Cyclops’ threatens to settle into a rock-riff groove before veering into all kinds of chaos with parping sax trills and every shade of jazz mania mewling like demented cats here there and everywhere, and the album’s thirteen-minute centrepiece, ‘Ode to a Gowanus Flower’ is an exercise on patience-testing as they wander through evocations of Eastern mystery. It’s difficult to listen to because it’s difficult to place and even more difficult to settle in with. This isn’t because it’s a departure, this is simply by virtue of the fact that this is a challenging album it its own right. It’s deranged, messy, unpredictable, incoherent and all the jazz. But it’s ambitious, interesting, and sees Cinema Cinema really test both themselves and their fans. And that’s a good thing: remaining static is tantamount to being dead. And moreover, any band that finds its niche and sticks to it consigns itself to a trajectory of diminishing returns.

Cinema Cinema are following their creative urges and aren’t dictated by any perception of fan demands or dictates: they do what they do because they’re driven to do it, and certainly not because of any label or trend. And this is why Cinema Cinema are such an essential band, and why they’ll endure. They don’t give a fuck about what you’re into. They do their own thing. And that is art.

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Cinema Cinama