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Saturday, November 11, 2006

MOUTHUS: FOR THE GREAT SLAVE LAKES

Listening to Mouthus is like being gang-banged by cats; they leave yr body covered in tiny little love-bites...incisor-shaped bruises and puncture-marks...not, as you might expect, from any sense of maliciousness or spite, but because they're, y'know, different.

At points, it sounds like this band exist at some sort of cack-handed interface between Metal and Tribal murk: an after-business knees-up at a pall-bearers conference...gatecrashed by a busload of overly enthusiastic drunken carpenters.

Guitars bob on a fast-running river of liquid mercury, furred-up w/ iron filings. They're prone to rear up suddenly, like horses being ripped or Bob Fripp being hung, mid-solo, for crimes against Ambient.

This is part of 3-Lobed Recording's excellent Modern Containment subscription series:



(On track three ("Crosses Shape") percussion twitches and rattles like a dying man's throat: guitars (and electronics?) give him an unwelcome preview of the Afterlife; an eternity under a howling, blood-red sky. The modulated noise piles up until it sounds like it is talking; a vowel-less, inhuman voice created by a random car-crash of frequencies that seems to speak the secret names of The Forbidden.)

Where does music like this come from? Did anyone make records like this before "Metal Machine Music" (in the 'Rock' idiom, I mean)? Who opened the doors and allowed these monsters to escape?

It's like having amnesia: I can't exactly remember or imagine a time, a point in history that stuff like this might have come into being as a genre. Who were its parents, its progenitors? I'm trying to mindsurf my way backwards...there's hints and snippets of a possible ancestry in the bits of Pere Ubu that were shoehorned inbetween the songs...the ugly, noticable grafts where it sounds like they were building a car or were lost in a steel foundry: snapshots of America's blue-collar 70s industrial heartland...and Swell Maps: the B-Side freakouts where they collapse into noiseswarf: yeah, yeah, I'm talking Rock Music here (or some inbred cousin thereof), not TG...tho', wait! What was industrial music before Industrial existed...if not some form of extremist art-rock with its aspirational ambition lipo-suctioned out: TG sounded like they didn't care if they could 'play' (whatever that means), and the usual sex/drugs/life on the road tales were replaced by deliberately morbid/provocative reportage.

But where did Mouthus and their peers (who? what? huh?) come from? This strand of music is too edgy and frazzled to have come from Kraut...though one ancestral strain might have easily been Kluster/Conrad Schnitzler...it's psychedelic, but it's also got the itchy restlessness of Punk, or more accurately No-Wave, but there's something sullen, doomy and portentious about it, as if it has the Rock of Ages sat on its shoulder, not a chip.

Surely, all this stuff doesn't just track back to VU and their NY brethren, does it? I can't see the road-map any more; there's too many tangles...

There's some Metal tendencies surfacing here, I'm sure: the monkish chanting has a resonance that invokes Sabbaff amongst others, but it's totally devoid of post Blue Cheer Power-rock posturing unless it's somehow been melted down and recast into something more lumpen and misshapen.

An interesting hybrid, indeed. And one that has a twisted provenance: a mottled hellfruit from a half-forgotten side-branch of Rock's tangled, mildew-speckle'd tree.

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