Monday, April 25, 2011

The Stalins of Sound on Volar Records

Here's another single from Volar Records who, based on the past few I've heard lately, are on top of this bedroom, minimal, metal-punk scene. They are raising it up local, I wonder if it isn't the case of a total of 8 obsessed dudes cross pollinating each others bands kind of deal, but the volume of material in this lockstep style denotes something happening under the surface in San Diego.

Take the first track from the Stalins of Sound, 'Bread and Circuses', based on the mechanical sampled sounds from machines must be due to their Stalinist upbringing on sandy, low resolution snare hits. It's a cold, cold world, not in the depressing, goth way that this robotic melancholia can go, but really getting punk and infusing as much melody into the track within this rigid structure as possible. It's maybe a case of setting up this structure to get off on breaking the rules a little bit.
A little bit like The Units, thy have a saw-blade rhythm, one, two, one, two...a Devo odd melody structure, but then those guitar chords land the whole thing in a indie or punk town, squarely miles from the Autobahn.
'Genocide Erection' we're talking...this uber rigid to attempt at revolution rock with programmed sequences is ambitious. But it's near impossible for these guys to have any kind of loose, improv quality. Obviously that isn't what they're going for.

Then B-Side's 'Baton of Discipline', does away with any of the members individuality, all of their decisions are informed by the Stalins. And by now I'm really getting on board with their fascist, unbending vision of punk. The mechanical beats are in such lockstep you wonder if it's possible to create a guitar version of the drum machine by now. Who needs someone to stand there and strum strings? These guys make that idea of a 'playable' instrument seem archaic. I wonder if they didn't take it upon themselves to have samples or robots at work here like those monkeys at typewriters and the Stalins take the choice cut riffs they feel, work.
'Grapevine' veers away from the super rigid structure more than anything else here with the introduction of a warbling phaser effect that seeps into everything, the guitars, the drums, the vocals. Making it the most melodic and natural sounding. I know that's probably going against everything they're trying to achieve here, but I appreciate that contrast once in a while, not that the irony is lost on an effect making them sound more human. That's a good trick.
I don't think I mentioned the vocals yet... I'm picturing a Sid Vicious, or Peter Murphy character, sung with a sneer and safety pins. The metronome 1,2,1,2 beat never wavers and the heavily emotional punk snarling works.
Given the minimal black and white soviet imagery and typeface on the sleeve this is all part of a well thought out master plan. I would have to say it's soulless, except for the vocals, and I'm sure they would take that as a compliment. Like SIDS they're trying to deliver on that promise of future punk. I'm not sure if music criticism exhausted or even answered that question yet? Because every kind of imaginary future is immediately outdated, and what is the promise anyway? All keyboards? Computers randomly generating melody based on 'pleasing' combinations? Then punk itself it never became mainstream enough to be completely rejected like the hippy rock or prog. There wasn't that huge shift by mainstream America to tear it down to start over. Music was either too fractured and idiosyncratic to ever be mainstream enough to have a reaction against again?
Punk either changed too quickly in style to be written off so easily or the moniker itself was just applied to so much across the board it became band-aid or xerox but then allows it to be reinvented all the time.
Even with this anti-punk going on in the Stalins of Sound, Drum machines? Synth? Rigid Structure?...not exactly the characteristics of punk, they apply it to that dystopian future where all the values and ideals are just a little off. After all humans rationalize anything in our behaviors to fit this sort of ever changing undefinable morality.

Get it straight from Volar records who says:

KBD-inspired, high-energy, satirical anti-establishmentarian synth punk from Hadi Fever of the defunct Dissimilars (who saw releases on Plastic Idol/Out of Order/Green Door, and featured Larry from Genetic Disorder and Jimmy from Slab City), this debut 7” represents years of anti-status quo angst unleashed in a four-song fury. Think Metal Urbain, the Spits, Mark Sultan’s the Mind Controls (see the cover of “Grapevine” on this), a little Slayer for good measure. With song titles like “Genocide Erection” and “Baton of Discipline,” these malcontents are sure to put an uneasy smile on your face while bobbing along to this fast, punchy Molotov cocktail of a record. They’ve already shared the stage with the likes of Nobunny, the Spits, Lenguas Largas, Earthmen and Strangers, and Destruction Unit, the latter of which they’ll join on a West Coast tour in the near future.

Limited to 90 on red vinyl, an edition of 200 on black vinyl.

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