Sunday, September 10, 2006


One of the things I love about noise is that even though the best is often made with non-traditional sounds, instruments, and processes, great noise can also be coaxed out of standard implements like guitar riffs and drum beats. Just ask Bardo Pond, Marble Sheep, Sonic Youth, Sun City Girls, Pussy Galore/Royal Trux, the Dead C., etc etc etc - pile up some chords until they blur into noise, or break them in half so oozing feedback pours out; stumble through some lopsided rhtyhms or puncture the air with epileptic beats; rip your lungs into the red or drool into the mic until it shorts, and you can make stuff that still kinda sounds like rock into really fucking great noise.

The Clear Spots know this as well as their forefathers listed above, and their three albums so far are all nice examples of how rock's better when it's busted, bloody, and spilling. The band is Kevin Moist (who used to do the great Deep Water zine and now has tons of good stuff going on at his Deep Water Acres webzine/label) along with a bunch of guys with the last name Bugaj, and they make hypnotic 4-track concoctions at a farmhouse in PA, rolling blurred-edge riffs and shambling drums into a warm knife that never fails to pass smoothly through the butter of my cerebral cortex.

Electricity for All is the band's most sprawling set yet, two CD-R's of engaging shuffles down the mossy lanes of aural imprecision. I'm particularly enamored of the lumbering drift of "Fun With Your New Head, Part 2," the quick feedback snack "The Man From the Atom," the overlapping stew of one-off riffs and fuzzy noodlings on "Darkness Dawn," and the bumbling gropes and half-ideas on "Chain Drive," which like a lot of the tracks above sounds like a prime outtake (e.g. "Melody Laughter" or "Booker T") from an early VU session.

Be warned that if you're a pure noisenik, you might not love the Clear Spots. More than a few of their improv adventures come across as space rock, psych, and even wanky prog, and even their farthest out stuff derives its nutrition from rock's basic food groups. But I'll happily defend all their stuff - even the lightest is full of interesting sounds and textures, and besides, fuck noise purity anyway. There's lots of epiphanies, catastrophes, and lobotomies to be found in every type of sound, and the Clear Spots have a place in that sprawling, sun-staring canon.

THE CLEAR SPOTS - "Chain Drive" from Electricity for All


Anonymous NF said...

Oh YES!! Those Clear Spots boys are Grade A. Nice review.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous km said...

Really well-written entry Marc, typically fine stuff. Thanks much!

1:09 PM  
Anonymous peacefeather said...

Word. also George Draguns made it happen on many of those tracks

7:42 PM  

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