Monday, November 10, 2014

Hot & Cold / Skip Skip Ben Ben split on Gary Records

I haven't heard of Gary Records before this release but I love their about page:
I like the concept of international splits because each band gets exposed to a new culture and fan base, plus PR and distro in that country, sometimes more i.e. tours.

It's taking what splits are about to an entirely new level. It's one thing to share a split with a similar sounding band and get fans of either to possibly get into a new artist but Gary wants to bring countries together! On this one it's Hot & Cold, the brothers from Beijing who put out Border Area a little while back on Moniker Records and Skip Skip Ben Ben from Taiwan.

Hot & Cold's side "Flynt" opens on two oscillating tones in a technical stomp beat from what I think is electronics but I can never tell with these guys as they seem to work organically with those ancient synth sounds, spinning gold out of the cheapest casio beat pads and pedals. This two tone synth tones start to break out of their box warping and phasing in and out, the only other sound is a fuzzy bass playing one note alongside that high tempo emulated kick snare. On Border Area they seemed to get a driving hypnotic rhythm going to then attempt to reclaim it for humanity. They thrive against that challenge of limitations they inflict on themselves. How can we instill emotion into this cold beat. These vocals are a great punk voice for this Kraftwerk highway. "Nothing but Scared" then is a clatter of ungrounded cables shorting out boards or just broken, dusty snare sounds from marbles dropped on a sample pad. They're getting a lot of craziness out of the distanced far off synth but otherwise the way they roughly throw these sounds around is what makes them exciting to me. The vocal isn't processed, just up close and personal probably in very few takes, the human side of this as close as it is, is a futile attempt by an imperfect machine to reign in control when the ciruits are so clearly winning. Like all their work it's shrouded in a mystery being so foreign sounding in synth and performance. The melody is rigid and any emotion is undone by the fascist feel of the machines, even though I keep thinking how they manage some emotion there as well..maybe its just that sort of contrast that effects me so much when I put them into rotation with Dirty Beaches.
There's a really great interview I came across where Alex from Dirty Beaches talks with these guys on Armour Discipline.

Skip Skip Ben Ben comes out with "I'm Out of Drugs" that has a weirdly tuned guitar or set of guitars running in an anti-melody, so rushed and looping that it makes its own sense right away. The track stops and turns to a free form rock freakout and then picks up again into what is the same rhythm but I'm hearing as a kind of Doo Rag future sound. A robot country song, and vocally she's screaming more her voice breaking and raspy. Equally mysterious and unique coming up with this combination out of necessity and a specific set of influenced repurposed. "Illusion of Love" has such an underwater guitar sound, reverb and echo to a serious degree coming in from another planet, and the vocals work like another instrument, reminding me of Lætitia Sadier from Stereolab or Satomi Matsuzaki from Deerhoof, it's high and heavily layered with chorus and nearly indecipherable in that dreamy way. Bizarre in this rhythm - how it ends up feeling like a hazy lovesong with nothing but loops of messy guitars and sounds echoing off one another is what makes this just as great as those brothers I was already familiar with. Gary mission accomplished.

Pick this up on Black or White from Gary Records.

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