Thursday, August 25, 2011

IS/IS "Vowel Movements" on Guilt Ridden Pop Records

Got another single in from Guilt Ridden Pop Records, this one from the band Is/Is, (not the metal band note the slash - not the guitarist either) from Minneapolis, a three piece creating some completely blown out, peaking, drone haze. I wouldn't even put this in the shoegaze category because of this underlying sense of dread at work on both of these tracks. I also appreciate the wordplay of the title track, it's very fitting to the mass of volume they manage to squeeze into the grooves of this long 33 1/3 single.

A-Side's "Vowel Movements" wastes no time getting right to an overwhelming riff, like Broken Water they are working somewhere in the middle of heavy hitting rock with that in the red sound of a long lost, buried underwater recording. The sound is huge at any volume, the kick drum is thumping from a few rooms away, it's a perfect wall of sound that takes real mixing and engineering skill to put together. It's the kind of haze that plays tricks on exactly what you're hearing, is that distortion or surface noise? They're playing in a cathedral, the waves bouncing back off the marble walls when it gets to what must be a chorus, there's still a change in . Vocally, Sarah on bass or Sarah on guitar, (I've been trying to hear if there's a back and forth going on) is creating another what might as well be an instrument, huge reverb on lyrics barely caught, delayed and delivered slow...that's where you get that vowel movement probably. This mammoth winds down with a heavy echo oooo ooooo, angels descending after the world was torn apart. I love this sound. There's nothing like being so completely overwhelmed live like this...there's no vocals, no guitar, no bass anymore....just an environment to bring earplugs and dig in.

The B-Side track, "Blackest Beat", it's no wonder I'm getting a dark vibe coming off the is/is haze, the distorted imagery, this dense sound of dissonanance...this title. It could almost pass into metal territory, the way Locrian straddles that unholy line. This track has just a hint of a bass groove, giving this side some lightness, but I swear there has to be some keyboards somewhere in this mix (there aren't - ed) or that's the sound of the very limits of human hearing reproduced on vinyl, all of those bouncing waves get into sync for a moment. They subtly change tempo in percussion only for the verse which features more of that mysterious fuzzy ethereal vocal. I really love this sound that you can simultaneously really work for in trying to pick it apart, or just let it be that overwhelming single sound...but they're working with more than volume, and based on these two tracks and the fact that I've almost worn out my broken water full length, I'm glad there's more of this approach out there.

Pure white vinyl with creepy double exposed black and white sleeve, digital download included and track info on the reverse. This one is from Guilt Ridden Pop Records, buy it over at stickfigure distro or contact the band directly at isisisaband at gmail.


  1. I've had vowel movements that sounded better than this record.

  2. You just couldn't resist...