Sunday, March 13, 2011

98 The Hard Way: EPs, Days 12 and 13

Enemymine: Enemymine (K)
You would never expect the bassists from godheadSilo and Low to be part of the same group, would you? And even if you did think about that sort of a collaboration, what would you expect it to sound like? Would you expect it to be the logical bridge between the final two Unwound albums? Because that's pretty much what Enemymine is; a lo fi connector bridge between Unwound's entire 90s output and Leaves Turn Inside You. It's an impressive feat given that there's no shared personnel between the two bands, but somehow that's the best description of the sound contained herein that I could manage to verbalize. It's got aggression ("TRCR" and "Dent Everything," the latter of which pushes towards Rites of Spring territory), it's got tension-building in spades ("The We're All Friends Club" and "Apartmentalize"), it's got a melodic streak ("I've Got the Ice in Me" and "Evaporate") and it's got the sort of rhythmic depth that can only come from having two bassists at the core of the band - though Mike Kunka does play guitar here, he wields it the same way he wielded his bass in godheadSilo. All in all it's a surprisingly rewarding little EP, even if it makes more sense in another band's discography than as part of its members actual ones. [8.4/10]

Download link and image courtesy of Pukekos.

Ofermod: Mysterion tes anomias (Pounding Metal)
I have a problem with orthodox black metal it seems. While I can happily get lost in the more experimental or just plain weird sounds of bands like Ved Buens Ende or Fleurety, the closer I get to the genre's pure, unrefined core the more trying it seems to become. I think what it boils down to is that you've got a series of set elements at work - hyperfast drumming, trebly, tremolo picked guitar, ungdly shrieking - that can work well together, but offer diminishing returns the more I hear them on their own, without a secondary influence to make them deviate from their set course. So a band like Ofermod can trick me into thinking they're worth my time with the apocalyptic, evil classical interlude that starts off this EP, only to reveal that it was a bit of bait and switch and the rest of the time we'll be in the well trod ground of straightforward orthodox black metal.

OK, maybe that's a bit unfair to them. But the point is that you can hear pretty much everything that's being done on this EP on any number of other BM releases, many of which feature them being done better. There are some elements here that point towards something better, slightly more involved drumming mostly, and a few tricksy time shifts in the title track keep it from tedium, but for the most part it's standard black metal EP 101. On first listen it's moderately invigorating, but go back looking for anything else and you might find yourself highly disappointed. [6.3/10]

Download link and image courtesy of Gorgonizedsatanicalrambunctionings.

Super Furry Animals: Ice Hockey Hair (Creation)
 If I confine myself to the 7" version of this release it's one of the most immediate five star releases that I can imagine. You know how Beatles-heads revere the "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever" single? This would be the SFA equivalent of that: two of the best slices of the band's singular form of art pop that they'd laid down at this point slapped onto a stopgap slab of wax and offering 12 near perfect minutes of material. The title track especially is about as close to perfect as an SFA song has gotten yet; it's multifaceted, vaguely experimental - though not so much as to be off-putting - and incredibly catchy all the while. It also represents the proper way to use auto tune (a full year before Cher ruined it for everyone) as the vocal treatment on the verses adds just the right sort of floaty, ethereal haze to the track without overdoing it. It also beats "Hey Jude" at its own game with the extended , repetitive coda, though i think a big part of that is that it's not the actual end of the song, just a segue into one of SFA's trademark electronic interludes. Meanwhile, on the flip side, "Smokin'" loops the flute hook from Black Uhuru's "I Love King Selassie" as incessantly as it repeats the refrain of 'I just want to smoke it,' acting as a refinement of the concept behind "The Man Don't Give a Fuck" in terms of the powers of repetition + controversy courting. And this might be a minority opinion, but I think it makes for a better song on the whole; the sample is fully integrated into the track, the band work with it to create a great piece of music on its own, and there's that double-time coda that does a lot more for the track than the psychedelicized guitar solos did for "The Man Don't Give a Fuck."

So between those two songs you've got an unqualified winner of a 7" record, and probably the best SFA single of all time. That said, the CD version adds a couple of ultimately inconsequential tracks that really add nothing to the release other than 5 minutes. It leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth to be honest; here we had a nearly perfect 7", plenty long enough to be an EP in its own right, and instead of leaving it be they went and tacked on a couple of nothing pieces because...why? If they were more fully integrated into the flow of the EP I might be more forgiving, but as it is they just feel extraneous. Sure, it's only five minutes of a seventeen minute release, but it forces me to knock it down a bit all the same. [8.7/10] (9.7 for the 7" though).

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