German Army: s/t LP (Skrot Up, 2013) + Endless Phonics LP (Monofonus Press, 2013)

July 24, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

German Army: s/t LP

German Army: s/t LP

Finally bubbling up from the tape/CD-r underground, German Army (apparently based in Los Angeles, and a duo with members named Meatball Maker and Chin Genie) is releasing some vinyl LPs now. The self-titled one on Copenhagen-based Skrot Up, which has been releasing all sorts of dark, weird oddities for 5 years now. Some of the songs on this LP have appeared on GA releases before, but they’re cleaned up for vinyl. This album tends to focus on longer, dubbier songs. “Guinea Strong Arm” has dark, blustering synths and looped percussion, with monotone vocals and dry surf guitar in the background, everything covered in echo. “Folded Skin” is a near-8-minute doom-ride, with a constantly ticking drum machine, detached spoken vocals, and tons of dub effects. “Ox Cart” is a curiously light-hearted diversion, with something sounding like an old children’s record sampled along with battered echo-covered percussion, which often lapses into backwards looping. “Pulling Lashes” is another slow, creepy death-crawl, with dungeon-like slow beats and more shadowy spoken vocals. “Translate Person” has a slightly faster rhythm, but still minimal and eerie, and with some ghostly marching horn samples in the background, along with more spoken zombie vocals. “Saxon Skull” has a more rhythmic, almost funky percussion loop, and more of a foundation to its rhythm via its bassline, and just a real dark urgency to it that sounds pretty fantastic, plus lots of cool distortion effects covering everything. And it goes on for 9 minutes of utter darkness and despair. Total Suicide and Throbbing Gristle vibes, but still doing something way different. Nicely done.

German Army: Endless Phonics LP

German Army: Endless Phonics LP

Also being released is Endless Phonics on on Austin-based Monofonus Press, which has released records by Sun Araw, XYX, Led Er Est, and many others. This is easily German Army’s highest-profile release yet, not just in terms of distribution, but packaging, production, songwriting, everything. It’s not quite Wolf Eyes’ albums on Sub Pop (I mean really, “Stabbed In The Face” is peerless), but it’s some quality noisy industrial. “Cut Memory” has really awesome dark noisy 4/4 beats and distorted vocals. “Verbal Hemisphere” is a dark echo-percussion-heavy instrumental. “Literacy In Opium” has fast, punchy beats, and somewhat more sung (but still monotone) vocals than usual for GA. “Exploring Skepticism” has more crushed industrial beats, and spoken vocals talking about a “love mixture”, and then speaking backwards at the end of the song. “Self Interview” has surprisingly calm guitar over a sharp drum sample, with tremolo vocals. On side B, “Endless Phonics” has a bashed trashcan-like percussion loop, harsh delayed guitars, and Genesis P-Orridge-like vocals saying something about “disjointed worship”. “Human Limbs” has a submerged techno beat and more delay/distortion-crazy vocals. “Discrete Elements” has clear organ and drum machine sounds, but not-so-clear vocals. “Sensual Movement” has crushed, almost early-IDM beats, and a lone synth whistling under the foggy vocals. “Vienna State” ends the album, a pulsy, shifty, short instrumental.

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