Psych

KITTY COEN

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The Exorzist III cast out the demon of holiday malaise with new EP

With the “Holiday Seasonal Affective Disorder Season” now officially upon us no doubt you’ll be needing some down ’n’ dirty ear-shattering brain-pounding skull-scraping consciousness-obliterating rock ’n’ roll to help purge the memory of your Alcoholic Uncle trying to convert you to QAnon and to help with digesting all that leftover cold turkey. But without going cold turkey of course because you’ll wanna down a couple belts of single-barrel bourbon before cranking up Gospel Jamming vol. 1, which is the new rekkid by the avant-punk-freejazz-skronk-jam-band-minus-the-noodle-dancing-power-trio known as The Exorzist III, a rekkid that’ll stuff your skull full of a pulverizing wall of sound that’ll block the ability to mentally process anything other than the glorious cacophony entering your earholes. (just scroll over the graphic directly below to listen).

The Exorzist III is a power trio in its purest form that dispenses with unnecessary frivolities such as having a singer, focusing instead on rhythmically-and-sonically-intense explorations like the 15-minute opening track "Jabber" with its layers of ever-shifting polyrhythms and heavily fuzzed out bass (Von Finger) and alternately-plinky-and-oceanic electric guitar (Drew St. Ivany) all anchored to a triple-time ostinato until it finally climaxes with an all-out tsunami of sound that sees drummer Nick Ferrante riding the crash cymbal like John Bonham suffering from a panic attack and it’s maybe something like the music John Coltrane would've made if he’d lived and continued down the path of Interstellar Space but traded his sax for an ax and switched over to playing heavy metal sometime in the '70s and after all Trane was raised on gospel music so maybe that accounts for the EP’s title.

And then…it just ends. A pattern that holds true for all four songs on Gospel Jamming vol. 1 because clearly The Exorzist III can't be bothered to write actual endings and no doubt fadeouts are far too gauche so instead they just stop playing whenever they damn well feel like it including on the final track “EVK” which simply lifts the needle off the record and not even on a downbeat. Harsh! It’s somewhat equivalent to a horror movie “jump scare” or maybe more like its polar opposite, but jarring either way, which is maybe how they came up with the name The Exorzist III (besides the power trio factor natch) which savvy readers may notice is only one letter removed from The Exorcist III (1990, dir. William Peter Blatty) a movie that some say has the greatest jump scare in horror history (my vote is for the ending of Carrie but it’s a close call) not to mention the movie features both Fabio and Patrick Ewing in cameo roles playing angels (!) so why it’s not taught in film schools alongside Citizen Kane I can’t explain. 

There’s a certain horror soundtrack aesthetic at work elsewhere on the record too. Like on “Coffer” which starts off with a short looped segment of suspense-type music before adding a high-BPM-hardcore-punk beat with the ominous loop still going on underneath and then adding a dissonant guitar that sounds like rusted car pistons grinding metal-on-metal and a throbbing plodding baseline and it's like the music you'd expect to hear if you were being being chased by The Tall Man from the Phantasm movie series about a creepy elderly mortician who torments his victims with a custom-designed oversized pachinko ball that flies through the air chasing you down long empty corridors until it catches up to your ass and these little blades or drills or circular saws pop out and thrust right into your forehead or eye socket or lower back for chrissakes which is a pretty impressively random way to kill a person so give The Tall Man credit for never doing things the easy way and neither does The Exorzist III and oh yeah he’s the guy on the cover of Gospel Jamming vol. 1 so that’s pretty cool. (Jason Lee)

   

Knifeplay go straight for the emotional jugular on new single "Hurt Someone"

Between the name of the band and the name of their new single (released just today!) and the photo above and the video below, I’m not sure I’d wanna meet Knifeplay alone in a dark alley.

But I would wanna listen to “Hurt Someone” alone in a dark alley because it's perfect music for a dark isolated place (whether interior or exterior) but at the same time perfect music for a place that’s ethereal and womb-like and otherworldly, with the steam rising up from a gutter nearby that catches the blue and pink light cast by neon signs just outside the alley while also diffusing the glow of dancing red and orange flames burning in the multiple unattended garbage bins that dot the landscape of Philly's grittier neighborhoods, or at least they do if you believe what you see in the movies, like in pretty much every Rocky movie where there’s at least one flaming garbage bin to be seen in the requisite jogging-through-the-streets-to-the-strains-of-horn-driven-disco scene.

You can probably tell I’m going for a cinematic vision here and it makes sense because Knifeplay makes widescreen-worthy life soundtracks with layer-upon-layer of oceanic guitars and hovering strings/synths and rhythms like a steady undertow that’ll make you wanna swim out to sea so far away that the rest of the world fades away from view. (or it’ll make you wanna hang out in a dark alley at night, I really need to pick one metaphor and stick with it!)

Anyway, Knifeplay is a six-piece made up of Alex, Johnny, Jack, John, Max, and Tj (no, I have no idea how to pronounce the latter) and according to the official press release released by their record label Born Loser Records it’stheir first new piece of music in nearly three years. Engineered by Philadelphia’s Jeff Zeigler, Hurt Someone offers a dark yet empathetic view of a character who fits right in with the world they’ve crafted in song since their early EPs” and there you have it.

And while you’re at it, you should head to your nearest streaming service asap and check out the single's B-side as well (“Ornament”) which is hardly ornamental because if the A-side is ethereal and amniotic, this instrumental B-side is the side that’ll actually make you feel like you're about to be stabbed to death in a back alley because the track ratchets up the nervous tension with a delicious-yet-demented-sounding dissonance until it builds up and up and up to an almost (almost) unbearable climax and then suddenly jump-cuts to black. (Jason Lee)

   

Alexalone: Lost in ALEXALONEWORLD

Alex Peterson is a guitarist, songwriter, graphic designer, and bandleader from Austin, and although alexalone was once their solo moniker (the name is a reference to the Japanese Zeuhl project RUINS-alone), alexalone is now a fleshed out five-piece band made up of some of Austin’s best musicians. Peterson is a true rocker, a professional as committed to shredding as they are to gigging and touring, and even though they have been a consistent fixture of the local indie rock and shoegaze scene for the past seven years, they haven’t always been at the forefront. alexalone is Peterson’s longest running project, and although it is a project which has undergone many iterations, their projects and performances have only become more ambitious and nuanced as the years have gone by.

ALEXALONEWORLD (which is the group’s first release on Polyvinyl Records) is an album that feels like the culmination of years of hard work, but perhaps more importantly, it feels like the beginning of a new era for the band. “Electric Sickness” kicks off the record with a meditative pulse: several layers of jangling guitars drone over a stoic bassline while Sam Jordan’s pocket drumming provides a steady motorik beat and the synths of Mari Rubio (aka more eaze) float delicately high in the mix. Peterson’s vocals are confident yet sensitive, and their tight harmonies with Hannah Read (aka Lomelda) instantly foster a sense of melancholy comfort. But as soon as the listener becomes settled into the song’s atmospheric warmth, it’s chorus suddenly appears, bisecting the track with intense blast bleats and soaring sludge guitar leads.Then, the verse returns—mellow and calm, as if nothing had happened at all. The magic of alexalone’s music reveals itself in disciplined shifts such as this:moments of juxtaposition which heighten the tension while simultaneously offering release. 

Transitions play an important role in all of alexalone’s music, and ALEXALONEWORLD’s seamless tracklist is no exception. The Boris-esque doom metal riff of the second track “Where in the World” towers above the swirling noise which precedes it, before resting into a dirge of spacey atmospherics that Peterson’s reverbed vocals glide on top of effortlessly. The track begins to build up energy at the end, only to be snuffed out by the cavernous sound of a piano’s strings being struck percussively. The shimmering intro of “Unpacking my Feelings” breaks down into a darker groove that’s reminiscent of Slint, ultimately reaching an aggressive and angular boiling point that seems to mirror itself in the violent and disjointed conclusion of the following track “Can’t Sleep”. Subtle electronics take the lead on the ethereal “Let it Go,” a song which acts as a melodic respite from the anguish of the preceding tracks. 

The lyrics on ALEXALONEWORLD are gloomy, but never defeatist. Throughout the albums there is a consistent tone of sorrowful confessionalism, but there is always an outlook of almost Tao-like struggle that’s present. This is perhaps best exemplified in the sprawling “Black Rainbow,” a 7-minute track whose spoken word sections carry the intimacy of a well guarded diary entry. The act of hearing these fearlessly honest lyrics occasionally verges on embarrassing, but their undeniable self-assuredness ventures beyond this to create a sense of intimacy rarely found in contemporary indie rock, a genre that’s often overwhelmed with surface-level sincerity. 

Lush with charisma, slowcore ballad “Ruins” is ALEXALONEWORLD’s standout track. The vocal melodies (again complemented by Read) are melancholy and impassioned to the point of possessing an almost goth-like confidence. I personally believe that Alex Peterson is the most inspired guitarist in Austin, and it is telling of their restraint that there is only one proper guitar solo to be found on ALEXALONEWORLD. This solo, reminiscent of Adrian Belew, Michio Kurihara, and Oren Ambarchi, rides out the conclusion of “Ruins”, and acts as a shamelessly epic climax for the album, transcending the carefully-cultivated depressive atmosphere without regressing into naivete.

The final track is the instrumental “Eavesdropper,” which serves as an epilogue for the record and fully leans into alexalone’s more minimalistic tendencies- a monotone bassline drones menacingly as Peterson’s theremin-like guitar feedback swoops in and out of dominance. In lieu of a linear chord progression, the track structures itself around stark volume dynamics which inevitably plow forward into a dense cacophony, then into silence- it is an expression of alienation which feels something like being on the verge of a panic attack in public. In the midst of a seemingly endless global pandemic which is disproportionately affecting Americans, the images of social anxiety and dread evoked by this album speak to an increasingly claustrophobic reality. These thematic undertones, along with it’s aesthetic contemporariness, are what makes ALEXALONEWORLD a truly accomplished record and alexalone’s best album — though plenty more, I hope, is yet to come.

alexalone can be seen live with Soccer Mommy on Friday, October 22nd at Emo’s.

   

Jude Shuma "Suzy Space Cadet"

Jude Shuma has released a new multi-media called "Suzy Space Cadet". This is one part 9-song album and one part comic book.

The comic portion was created by German artist Denise and both the comic and the album focus on a girl's incredible tour through the galaxy.

You can help Jude celebrate the released of his new project on October 18th at Schubas with James Swanberg.