Sunday, May 14, 2006


There's tons of great shit happening this decade, but my holy trinity of post-90's noise would be Sightings, Mouthus, and Double Leopards. Sightings get the Father position not from longevity (I think the Leopards win that race), but just cause they were the first I got to hear. When I caught rumblings in 2001 that Mark Morgan had a new band in NYC, I was definitely intrigued, but totally unprepared for the amazing onslaughts of Sightings (Load) and Michigan Haters (Psych-o-Path). The band's m.o. was simple enough - slobbering semi-rock "songs" with everything distorted beyond the capacity of man-made sound reproduction devices - but the sheer energy and odd unpeggability of the band's splattering sound palate gave both records a brain-destroying mania. Not to get too melodramatic, but it felt like a, uh, "new day" in noise.

Turns out it kinda was: noise and all other forms of abstract sound have steadily inclined since '01, and my own insignificant version of history sez Sightings are a (maybe even the) key. Since their first two blasts, they've found suprising nuance and dimension in their monolithic noise-walls: 2003's Absolutes added hints of dissected rhythm, leading to the chopped-up sparseness of 2004's Arrived in Gold, which proved that the band's powerful volume wasn't really about loudness, but rather unattenuated ideas and energy. Add the fact that Sightings warp brain cells live (their gig at No Fun Fest #1 was a mind-killer, particularly bassist Richard Hoffman's inhuman weight-lifting), and it's hard to think of a better band this decade.

The newest Sightings slab, End Times (Fusetron), takes four tracks from a super-limited LP (a collab with painter Daniel Richter for Italian label EN/OF) and adds five new chunks. It mixes styles from every past album - especially Morgan's drooling moans from the first two and the sharp, needle-sticking beats of John Lockie ca. Absolutes - into another mesh of overdriven beauty, and is often as harsh as the band has ever been - some parts will have you gluing in earplugs. Still, there's something uniquely, uh, human about this rec. Every song (two are available on Sightings' myspace page, and one below) seems to course with blood, and even the most desperate, brusing cuts are tinted warm red rather than cold black and blue. This might even be the best Sightings rec - I'm never gonna be objective about this band so don't trust me there - but you can trust me that, despite its ominous title, End Times proves the fertile sonic fields of Sightings are far from fully harvested.

Same goes for Mouthus, the first band since Sightings to give me such a holy-shit first-listen jolt. The two bands don't sound alike (Mouthus have a sludgier vibe, with more hypnotic, deadened (or even Dead C.-ened) drift), but it's still no big shock that they have a mutual history. In the 90's, Mouthus guitar-killer Brian Sullivan started a band with Sightings' Hoffman called Chaw Mank (they continue today with Sightings' Lockie and/or Mouthus drummer Nate Nelson), and Mouthus' in-house CD-R label, Our Mouth, has just released a thatch of Chaw Mank material called Vol. I. I've only had this a couple days and can't do it justice, but rest assured it's all you'd expect and more: dense air-tearing noise, gut-level pounding, vocals flattened into electric sheen, and the kind of wide-ranging openness to all possible sounds that Mouthus has patented. Right now I really dig the two 13-minute-plus tracks ("Days Of Air" is a funereal loop straight off of the Dead C.'s self-titled 2cd on Language), but both are too long to post, so instead here's the rec's darkest cut, a eerie crusher called "Jerk Finger"...

SIGHTINGS - "Bile Duct" from End Times
CHAW MANK - "Jerk Finger" from Vol. I


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