Sunday, August 13, 2006


Anyone who knows me is probably sick of hearing me talk about Mouthus. Ever since I bought their s/t album at Kim's a few years ago (strictly because it was on Psych-o-Path) and was immediately demolished by its hypnotic noises, metallic fogs, fractured beats, and uncannily clear-yet-murky mixes, I've been blathering non-stop about the masterful duo of Brian Sullivan and Nate Nelson. I've written something about almost every one of their releases somewhere, incl. the very first Noiseweek entry - so you'd think I too might eventually tire of talking about them. And I suppose I will someday - if they ever put anything bad out. Don't count on that - the amount of great Mouthus missives on various imprints (Important, Ecstatic Peace, Troubleman, etc) seems to be growing exponentially, and the band's in-house label Our Mouth has kicked into full gear - so get used to it or get lost (or both), I guess.

Best of the recent Our Mouth stuff is the first Sullivan and Nelson solo CD-R's. Sullivan's comes under the name Eskimo King, and Tooth-Shaped Migration is five thick, detailed chunks of sound spread over a quick 17 minutes. What I dig most about Sullivan is his wide-open outlook on what sounds are worth making. Mouthus may concoct a lot of deep, textured noise, but they also use acoustic guitar loops, dirgey metal-like stomps, polyrhtyhmic meditations, busted rock riffs, and tons more. Each track here is pretty different: "My 2nd Magnet" has the loping moan of Luxurious Bags or even a slo-mo Sebadoh or Tall Dwarfs; "Pinewood Derby" stretches out guitar chords and vocal syllables like vintage Dead C.; "Bear to Bear" is like early Sonic Youth filtered through a muffler; and "Ran From Ice" plants distant bombs behind a beatific acoustic line in a way that doesn't sound like anything else I can think of. My favorite piece is the simplest: "Take It to the Bus Line" (linked below) chips away at a wall of super-textured noise until its inner core of guitar, mouth harp (I think), and droning voice are left waving in the wind. My only complaint about Tooth-Shaped Migration is that I want more - some of these tracks sound like excerpts from longer symphonies - but restraint is just another of Sullivan's myriad strengths.

Afternoon Penis is the delightful name of Nelson's solo endeavors, which are as cerebrally-enthralling and gut-divining as Sullivan's. I'm pretty sure the title of his two-track CD-R Up All Night is meant literally, as Nelson often kills nocturnal hours in the practice space Mouthus shares with Double Leopards, prodding and massaging his hybridized acoustic/electric/etc kit until the sounds in his head and the room are indistinguishable. The result is two sides of the noise coin: "Calling SF" is a repetitive, commited stretch of echoing rattle and haunting drone that evokes a broken assembly line grinding itself into oblivion, while "Love Among the Stacks" is less cloudy, winding through lonely overlapping percussion and tribal whistle-and-tom duets before crawling into a tomb of noisy howl. It all evokes Mouthus' darker leanings on The Long Salt yet feels somewhat independent of the duo's staggering body of work as well as Sullivan's Eskimo King sketches - proof again this pair's vault of ideas will provide me with a reason to yak for a long time.

ESKIMO KING - "Take It To the Bus Line" from Tooth-Shaped Migration
AFTERNOON PENIS - "Love Among the Stacks" from Up All Night


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