Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Matress - Low Blows on Malt Duck Records
In some far off future, there is a terrible shack of a bar in a back alley on another planet, and Rex Marshall of Mattress makes his living (just barely) singing with a sequencer (if that's what they still call it) for a few bucks that found their way into his tip jar. A Han Solo Tom Waits...you'd be glad to see him I'm sure, if you stumbled across his show. You'd thank him for here was some bit of humanity left in this definitely messed up apocalypse. Mattress recalls a long gone past... romanticising the cabaret or vaudeville acts and updating them with electronic sounds that are ancient, but always sound like that unobtainable future.
And if you had a record label in that broken worlds, you'd release it like Malt Duck has, only it's 2010...and this record is simultaneously ahead and behind of it's time. Is that timeless?
This anti-time clear vinyl full length ended up on my turntable thanks to Melissa at Malt Duck, I mentioned Mattress' single when they first released it and wasn't expecting this distinct, even more specific direction from the band. It's been refined into a really unique vision, shedding any kind of easy reference.
I can't help but picture a sort of a lounge-y Glen Danzig with the tech minimalism of Blank dogs, but where Mr. Sniper takes a basically pop song approach, Mattress goes a Velvet Underground direction with monotonous rhythms trapped in amber, amazing because they still exist, that they've been plucked from the abyss of unused sounds and given new life. It's a tribute to automation...the assembly line. They are almost naturally occurring electronic sounds that used to have a purpose...a hum of an oscillator, a transformer. They are just background to an industrial age, Mattress might as well be out there singing a capella in the factory yard to the rhythm.
They're Kraftwerk era sounds, the beginning of making pure music out of tweaking sine waves with knobs and switches. What goes with the minimal single note unpolyphonic score to this sci-fi film that got the future so wrong? It's the emotional crooning of a washed up star. But it's so wrong, it makes sense.
This world is dark, and I imagine while recording you've been heavily drinking, and more than once you lull yourself to sleep with the sweet fabrication sounds of metal clanging through the headphones. I'm beginning to feel in on the joke, especially on 'Penny for your Thoughts'. Two notes banged out by robots, those long mechanical arms from a long since closed car factory...it's all they do, back and forth, high and low. But to sing like this... It's truly cracking me up in the best way. I'm laughing with him. It's the way he commits to this persona and anti-music that completes the scene. Oh, Suicide... how many bands have you inspired?
"Don't It' is so murky and slow, the bpm doesn't even register. His question, 'Don't it make you wanna lose your mind?' can be easily answered. I remember an interview with Black Dice where they talked about being interested in overwhelming the audience completely, literally changing your perception through the noise. I think an album of this is doing the same thing really, you spend time in this world and it's going to make you think about everything differently. Recordings that effect you on that level are never easy, but that's a gift, dear readers.
This is made for vinyl and the insane bass vibrations from the low end synth. It's mostly not going to shake the house, but these little moments that catch you off guard...that sound was in there? Do I turn it down? No. Shake the neighbors.
If I was listening to this on cassette, 10 years ago (20- ed) I'd throw the thing out, it's obviously time to get a new one...or the batteries are going to their slow death, barely enough left to spin the tape...you'll never dance to this, just stand there motionless and watch the weirdness unfold.
This piece of future weirdo synth can be had for just 10$! Malt Duck Records.
Leave off the last 'S' for savings.