Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vacant Fever - Kill Kill Kill EP - self released

This not safe for work sleeve is from the Portland duo, Vacant Fever, who are playing around with the unused, extreme settings on weirdo pedals to create idiosyncratic massive grooves over complex drum arrangements that never veer into math, but more jazz or progressive inspired rhythms.

On the A-Side track "Restless and Young" kicks off what's going to be their signature back and forth between their digital distortion sound from one of those octave pedals where the harmonics work in sync across scales of sound and a percussion section that's equally as experimental. I almost can't hear anything but this funky George Clinton sounding groove, a sort of Parliment space sound with a breathy delivery on lead vocals that can sound reminiscent of Wolfmother at times without the high metal sustain. These guys have a lot in common with The Ax, take that super heavy groove that almost writes itself.
With, "Kill Kill Kill" they go for a huge repeating, echo chorus strum that jabs in and take a while fading off, like the beginning of Detachable Penis, I love that that song has 12" dance remixes. The vocals are super emotional and strained here, a tortured and pained delivery. There's bursts of drum fills, muted crashes...the attention to every tiny detail of hit is clearly of the highest importance along with these video game destroying sounds. The almost a capella vocal between the strums and thick drums is a unique choice, The balance between the close, up front vocal and sweeping strum of cathedral room reverb is weird to be in the same chorus... mashed between these two worlds.

B-Side's, "Yeah Yeah" has a far off drum track with the handclap on the downbeat, distorted vocals this time and a little punchy Jesus and Mary Chain meets the Replacements sound, going that fuzzy neo-west coast direction, with slow "yeeeaaaa yea's".
"Like it or Not", is on with the big bass digital mental sounds again, the vocals from track to track are completely different textures, like the Kills, with a drawn out guitar feedback that turns into a sort of chorus in this one... they've been pushing these sounds in a really clean pop context, and this is no exception.
"Don't Look Down" features more of that octave shifter, and 0 bit sampling but they're doing a great job of making this work in that The Edge super produced way. Vibey reverb surf guitar, this one starts to get into dirty beaches territory for a second, like they have that dirty Elvis new Bladerunner country kind of sound, then it picks up into a massive chorus again. Like the beginning of a Pixies track in it's minimal drums, strong bass rhythm and his weird phrased vocal, it has more of an industrial punch when it gets going, but that similar quiet loud quiet feel.

Recorded and Mixed by none other than Tape Op's own Larry Crane on black vinyl, with download card, available direct from Vacant Fever.

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