Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dharma Dogs "Drown" on Kitchy Manitou Records

The Dharma Dogs contacted me a while back about their new single on Kitchy Manitou Records. Based out of Madison, they of course, have crossed paths with Bobby Hussy from The Hussy, who actually recorded and mixed this single according to the liner notes. I checked in the archives and first came across these guys on the Obvious Records Sampler and was looking forward to more of their ultra scuzzy sludge.

A-Side's "Laxadaisy" gets started with their big distortion, a special mix of dirty hiss and sharp crunch that explodes off the needle. Vocally there's that big echo, but no hint of any kind of garage or surf sound usually associated with that springy decay. This is the dirty, peaking sound of something like the Bleach demo, a mix of early nortwest sound and the wisdom of distance. Slowly bending chords of minor key solos under one single mammoth distortion effect tuned all the way into it's last possible notch. And that's where Bobby makes this thing special, compressing the hell out of the harshness back into the mud. (Just a guess) These guys are pushing everything to the max but with restrained moments, playing with the roughness, just how big is this going to get? That creeping start is key, a hint at almost drone until they lay into this with speed. A hardcore grunge, with the humanity and desparation of Kurt's vocal on those B-sides. The bass notes rumble and hum for a brief pause. Heavy power chords all barred, a relative of Milk Music at speed...great sustained notes with barely a chance to breathe. "Fluke or Flounder" gets into big chords again and right into speed. A real thumping kick sounds like it could be someone pounding on the floor from underneath, ooops too loud again. True thuds that at any volume is menacing. They're punishing these guitars, on the verge of breaking strings, somehow coaxing out a melody structure in spite of the volume and piled on layers. They go from that thin crackly sludge melody to pouring on the thick electric. More and more layers of fisted, punching solos. Repeating that final melody one last dying breath time.

"Deep Wound" on the B-Side starts with a warning shot of feedback, a sign that everything is being pushed to the limit and if you aren't actively beating on this instrument it's going to start squealing. Piles of drum tom over here, more downer vocals, layered on this time like the Lowenstein tracks on Harmacy. Epic distortion, going after that MXR pedal sound, its a good thing there arent any plastic parts on that magnet for abuse. Higher more delicate stuff pops up here, possibly even taking a page from the early Dino jr. stuff, but with more vocal energy, positively screaming in a low register. God it's good to hear this sound again, done authentically and under the same flag as that perpetually overcast wooded region. This gets real dark towards the end, I can't shake the kurt sound, the manic whispering that goes into the I'M A NEGATIVE CREEP!!! sound. Deep wound...hmmmm get it?

On dark blue clear vinyl with download card and insert. Glossy black and white open aperture blurry photo sleeve but I could make out a Melvins shirt and that just about did it for me. On tour all over Michigan this month....lucky bastards. From Kitchy Manitou.

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