Friday, April 19, 2013

The Hecks on Moniker Records

There are two kinds of music listeners: the kind that are constantly searching for a new sound, and the kind that are comfortable repeating over and over the things they found when they used to think about new music. On any given day I’m part of both camps, sometimes I want the comfort of a certain record again and all the associations that come with it and other times I’m completely sick of every single thing I own. That’s when The Hecks from Moniker Records come in to get me excited about their bizarre conclusions. The duo from Chicago are playing with elements of no-fi, garage and punk but landing squarely in none of them. Like Blanche Blanche Blanche, it’s weird and new without even trying to be.

"Trust and Order" introduces a groovy snare roll with odd timings and a great measure-ending bash of the cymbal. It’s a plucky electric number with repeating orders, throwing a tambourine and adding layer after layer to a psych pile that jauntily changes direction as soon as it gets going. A pleasant little instrumental that ends up bleeding all over itself, conjuring magic out of nothing more than the usual suspects. Vocals pile in on cymbal hits with a steady 4/4 chanting, the chords following the guitar. It’s almost a meditative chanting with this repeated riff and drum loop, leaving it hard to pin down this contradiction of minimalist psych. It’s the obvious look towards experimentation that gets me. Am I in love with this the way it is? Yes, but the possibilities you hear them reaching for are just as easy to love - even more. The high plink of strings wound tight, the guitar notes above the fret board - why would you be playing those? Because they look at this instrument in entirely new ways. Hallelujah.

B-Side’s "The Time I Play With My Puppy" has an unassuming acoustic sound and layers of feedback like rubbing the edge of a wineglass; a piercing hrreeeeeeeeeee. The whining is packed into multiple layers and bounced around like a honest piece of synth with the production of an 8track cassette. The glitching at the end next to this rising tone is so oversampled that it ends up sounding strongly vocal, finding the weirdness in this mechanical sound the same way that the Velvet Underground was searching for one more measure of repetition to transmute the progression into something else. Shaker and a shrill echo with a flexible nylon string sound, with Sonic Youth bursts of electric. Everything but the acoustic drops out and feedback slowly fades in with the quivering bounce of a signal repeating in on itself. They play the sound of collapse, an impossible instrument, slowly working it over, coaxing a performance out of the distance between pickups and speakers. All of a sudden it changes from a fun reverb song about a puppy to an introspective track, kind of a surprise that you’d end up with this pace somehow. It’s the black magic of playing something past the breaking point. It started out fun, we all thought this was going to be a nice ride but like Disintegration Loops it starts to feel creepy like a ghost EVP recording. What’s been captured there on tape, we'll never know. The end of the world? At least he got to play with that puppy. It would sort of be worth it.

Pick this up from Moniker Records, white and black vinyl available.

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