Posts Tagged ‘Trumans Water’

30th June 2022

James Wells

‘i write weird songs for weird folks’ writes alien machine, all in lower case. ‘A solo artist pretending to be a 3 to 5 piece garage punk outfit,’ ‘the sea complains’ is their fourth release. Details of this US-based artist are sparse to non-existent, but it appears that having emerged in 2014, they lay creatively dormant before deciding to reconvene with racketmaking during the pandemic, which seems to be a common thing as people sought ways of dealing with the strangeness and the isolation.

This is raw, primitive, and psychotic. The skewed, angular, murky mess of the first track, ‘math’ sounds like it was recorded on a Dictaphone in the living room while the band play their first rehearsal in the basement. The overall effect is very much early Pavement (pre-Slanted, those EPs collected on Westing were betonf lo-fi) / Silver Jews lo-fi so slack as to not give a shit about being in time / holding a tune / anything at all really, and it’s played with the wild, frenzied mania of Truman’s Water. Then again, ‘coward’ is a pulverising screamo-fest that brings in elements of Shellac, the guitars sliding and jerking in all directions over a loping drum beat, and closer ‘aquaburst’ goes fill Truman’s, with clanging Big Black guitars and everything going off all at once, but not necessarily in the same key or time signature.

It’s a headache-inducing discordant buzz, and it’s wonderful.

There’s nothing particularly weird about this – although fans off mainstream chart music would likely disagree – but it is a hard-on-the-ears trebly racket, that’s so slack it can’t even be arsed raising a finger to production or concessions to clean sound. It doesn’t get much more DIY than this.

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27th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The multi-talented, multi-discipline and perhaps, sometimes, not-so-disciplined Benjamin Heal returns in his Cowman guise, under which he’s been operating since 2005 with a new EP, his first in a decade, after previous creative detours with Coaxial and various other projects.

Over the course of a sporadic and low-key career, li-fi, slackerist Cowman has – impressively, whether by fluke or by design – appeared on bills with a slew of cred cult acts, including Ack Ack Ack, Gum Takes Tooth, Cove, Pifco, and John Parish. These notable highlights are well-deserved, but it’s a pleasure to witness cowman making a comeback, instead of simply revelling over former achievements.

Crunch is a magnificently loose knockabout and if Pavement comparisons may seem lazy shortcuts, they’re also entirely justified. But then… then… there’s a whole lot more. The first track, ‘Concrete Eyes # Turpentine’ , with its inexplicable punctuation, starts out a fairly straightforward, if angular indie kicker in the vein of Slanted era Pavement, with wonky, off-kilter guitars that sound vaguely out of key, but then spins off into an epic swirling expanse of psychedelic post-rock. The whole thing is almost ten minutes long, drifting into a long, sluggish drone in the final minutes.

There’s an easygoing picked guitar line that contrasts with jittery drums on ‘Concrete pink Dots’ before the distortion kicks in, and it does so hard, creating a dense whorl of noise that almost buries the drums, until they surrender to the barrage of din, and we find ourselves drifting in a cloud of hazy shoegaze guitar. It’s mellow, but it’s loud, and that’s where the hypnotic ‘Bloody Diffuser’ picks up as it embarks on another ten-minute sonic journey, a slow-smouldering soundscape heavy on delay and reverb. Switching through a succession of segments, where the transitions are jolting, flicking changes rather than seamless transitions, it’s by turns doom drone and psychedelic drone, but ultimately, it’s all the drone – and that’s a good thing.

Ordinarily, two versions of one song on the same release feels a bit lazy, but then again, I spent the 90s buying singles on three formats in order to obtain all the versions and B—sides, and I have a hunch that Benjamin is also well-versed in the maxi-single and the like, and it so happens that the cropped version of ‘Tobacco Eyes’ that rounds it off actually feels like a single that had it been released circa 92 would have been lauded in the press as being in the vein of Pavement and Truman’s Water. And in fairness, that’s just as true in 2022.

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Human Worth – 17th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Sometimes, a record hits you before it’s even got going. Perhaps it’s the way sound connects beyond the rational, striking a chord in the soul on a subconscious level that’s almost impossible to pinpoint, let alone articulate. We All Do Wrong is one such record.

From the first bar, the chord struck is a brittle clang that intimates something sharp-edged and to be mindful of. Meandering brass isn’t the most obvious thing to enter the mix next, but then for all of their hardcore / noise credentials, there’s nothing obvious about the material on this release from X’ed Out, featuring members of Silent Front and Working Men’s Club (the hardcore one, not the shit indie one). And then the guitars blast in and everything explodes. It’s only the first track, and already I’m dazed and dizzy, feeling as though I’d been beaten around the head with a crowbar outside a jazz club – because how else do you explain such a brutal battering while brass bursts all around?

Turns out this is just the gentle introduction to the full-throttle mania that ensues. ‘The 5 Headed Boy’ is a jolting, jarring mess, a blurring whirl of hardcore, math-rock and weird craziness, like Black Flag, Shellac, and Truman’s Water in a blender. I can’t remember if it was NME or MM (probably the latter) who described Truman’s Water’s deconstructed math-rock with their jolting, jerky, off-centre riffs as being ‘the real Pavement’, but it made sense at the time, as Pavement were hailed as inventing slackerist lo-fi with skewed riffs, while TW were way more slanted (if not necessarily enchanted) in their manic approach to similar materials. I digress, but I suppose this is informative to the context of what X’ed out sound like, with stop/start rhythms, changes in tempo and direction at the most unexpected of moment

Sometimes, this job is really tough. You’re exposed to new music quite literally all the time, your inbox bursting with more than you can ever even listen to or even aspire to listen to – in my case, twenty or more albums a day is a minimum average. Have you ever listened to twenty albums in a day? Let along listened to and written about them? I’d love to, of course, and knowing it’s simply not humanly possible, I’ve contemplated the possibility of having music injected directly into your brain, so you have it stored, heard and assessed, without the labour.

Of course it’s a ridiculous concept: you listen to music to feel the energy and emotion, to bask in the experience, not to simply ‘know’ it, and albums like this remind me why. You feel this with a blistering, blinding intensity.

Everything is louder and faster and more angular than everything else. When they play slower, it gets sludgier and gnarlier, as on the synapse-blasting ‘Fouling the Nest’ and ‘Self Healer’. On the former, it’s a bowel-quivering bass that dominates, while on the latter, from seemingly out of nowhere, there’s a long, slow, expansive instrumental section over which melodic vocals drift, and you momentarily forget where you are – namely in the middle of a sonic riot, with bottles, brick and Molotov cocktails being slung in all direction. What happened? Were you temporarily hypnotised? Possibly. I believe it’s called being ‘in the moment’, and this of course is one of the most wonderful things about music, in that it can transport you, can make you forget. A rolling piano chimes out and it’s grand, and almost soothing, and then the drums hammer harder.. and then it’s gone.

The epic ten-minute final track, ‘The Noble Rot’ is different again – expansive, emotive, it sounds very much Oceansize in styling, at least until the trumpet marks its arrival. With so much in the blender, it’s so, so hard to categorise or pigeonhole We All Do Wrong, although alongside the aforementioned comparisons, Terminal Cheesecake and Bilge Pump are probably worth mentioning: if these bands means anything to you, then you need X’ed Out in your life. If they don’t, then you still need X’ed Out in your life, as well as to expand your education.

What’s more, being released on Human Worth, a label where the clue is in the name, 10% of the proceeds from the release is being donated to charities, on this occasion Breast Cancer UK. It’s all good.

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Christopher Nosnibor

Some bands, you only dream of seeing. Others, not even that: the possibility doesn’t even exist as a bubble of thought, for one reason or another. As one of the most wilfully obscure acts to emerge from the early 90s scene, Trumans Water have forever existed in the latter category.

After achieving a certain cult cred in the music press with their first three releases after John Peel went ape over their debut, Of Thick Tum, which he played in full in release in 1992, they seemed to deliberately sidestep the limelight with the series of improvised Godspeed albums on minor labels, and after departing Homestead after 1995’s Milktrain to Paydirt album, they more or less seemed to vanish into the underground of their own volition. There’s a certain logic to this: their last album was released nine years ago on Asthmatic Kitty Records, and probably sold about as many cops as my last book., even though Drowned in Sound were nice about it. And so they’re playing at Wharf Chambers in Leeds, which has a capacity of maybe 100 while they tour for the first time in ages to support nothing as far as I can tell. It all seems quite fitting.

It’s a killer lineup, too.

Husband and wife duo Pifco crank out noise that’s pure Dragnet era Fall, and they’ve got the 3R’s (that’s Repetition, Repetition, Repetition) nailed, with dissonance and scratchy guitar clanging over motorik but hectic drumming .

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Pifco

This is the third time I’ve seen Bilge Pump this year after the Leeds legends returned to the fray after some time out. They haven’t been anything less than outstanding on the previous occasions, and it’s a record they maintain tonight. It’s no their first time supporting Trumans Water, and they’re very much a complimentary act that sit between the cyclical repetitions of Pifco and the jarring angularity of the headliners. They also play hard – guitarist Joe’s shirt is saturated by the time the set’s done – and they’re also an absolute joy to watch, a cohesive unit firing on all cylinders.

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Bilge Pump

Trumans Water are also tight and cohesive – remarkably so, in fact. But they hide it well, sounding like they’re completely out of tune and out of key and often playing three different songs at the same time. Some of that’s down to the simultaneous vocals that don’t exactly combine to create conventional harmonies, while a lot of it’s also due to the unusual guitar style: I’m not sure of half the chords are obscure or made-up, but every bar conjures a skewed dissonance. But they are tight: the constant changes in tempo and off-the-wall song structures are brain-melting, and how they not only shift instantaneously, but play an hour-long set of sprawling freeform angularity without a set-list is remarkable.

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Trumans Water

Trumans Water have never really sounded like anyone else. Pavement comparisons don’t really cut it on close inspection: whereas Pavement were genuinely slopping in their playing early on, Trumans Water would probably align more closely to freeform jazz and Beefheart at his oddest.

It’s a riotous blur of jolting, shouty, brain-melting racket that runs into one massive sprawl of crazed anti-music. And it’s an absolute joy.