09 May, 2015

Recent Love (Almost Didn't Happen Edition)

Tyranny is Tyranny, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
The last time I slept on a record to review, you know, what with working sixty three hours a week, having this, that, and the other iron in the project fire, blah blah blah, the label that was nice enough to send me their stuff stopped sending me their stuff.
So Russell from Tyranny is Tyranny sends me the new Tyranny is Tyranny record, I accidentally delete the email and I'm all, Fuck, hey, sorry, Rusty, can you resend that? and he's all, "No sweat," and I'm all, Cool. And then I go to review it and I can't find it and I'm all, What the fuck? I'm like the worst record reviewer ever. My credibility's shot and nobody's going to send me a review copy again. And then I find it on my desktop, not in the download folder. So, thankfully, I can review the new Tyranny is Tyranny record.
First of all, I don't know whether to refer to this as an EP because it has only five songs or an LP because the motherfucker clocks in somewhere around forty minutes - I'm estimating there - is the designation based on number of songs or how long the recording is in total? I'm not a technical genius anymore, my talents have withered... Or have they exploded?
Yeah, that was a bad joke. Sorry. You see, that's because the first song is called "Or Does It Explode?", the title coming from the Langston Hughes poem, "Lenox Avenue Mural" (and the only reason I know that is because of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, otherwise, I'm not much of a poetry guy). It's heavy, it has a nice dual-guitar solo at the end that I'm going to say evokes Thin Lizzy because fuck Iron Maiden, it has a chant here and there, there's an instrumental passage that reminds me a bit of Explosions in the Sky, and, like a good bit of Explosions in the Sky's output, it's seven and a half minutes long. Not necessarily a marathon run like you'd find with Self-Evident, a band that I like but I always forget before seeing them how much I need a water bottle and a sweat rag to get through their set. Like a long march to the sea, that band, I tell ya. But worth it. And Tyranny is Tyranny is worth it, too. Like any band that dabbles in pushing song lengths past the five minute mark on the reg, they know well enough to make things a rollercoaster ride of sorts, to play with the ebbs and tides of song craft, not just bludgeon the listener with plodding fuzz. The bands that just go bbbbbbrrrrrruuuuuuhhhhhhmmmmmmnnnnnnvvvvvvffffff for eight minutes never really held my attention much. Sure, you can accuse Melvins of doing that, there are some folks who think Melvins do that, but those are the people who never heard Lysol which only sounds like that's what's going on but if you listen deeper to the subtext of the arrangement, you find it has much more to do with tension and release. Tyranny is Tyranny's arrangements are more obvious in their tension and release, "She Who Struggles" being a good example, and also the next song, and also playing footsie under the table with the seven and a quarter minute mark.
Wait. Did I just say that "Hung Bunny / Roman Dog Bird" has subtext? Jesus. OK, forgive the digression. I'm still new at this.
"She Who Struggles", Jesus wept, I'm jealous of the arrangement on this one. I wish I had come up with it. I probably would've made it either half or twice as long, though, because I'm an asshole like that. But "She Who Struggles" easily pulls off the quiet-loud-quiet-loud arrangement and I'm listening to it and wondering, Is it just the same part over and over just played with varying levels of volume? Because there are songs like that, where you divide the song up into sections based on the volume, not the chord changes. And it might seem like cheating to you but it really isn't. Consider Ravel's "Bolero" for instance. That song is, what? a hundred goddamned minutes and it's the same thing the entire time and it's a hugely respected piece of classical music. Stop being an asshole and open your ears to "She Who Struggles".
"Pillar of Cloud, Pillar of Fire" starts with a feedback drone, some plaintive guitar, and a lone trumpet, then the drums come in, and you can see in your mind's eye a burning rice patty from your chopper. "Pillar of Cloud, Pillar of Fire" is easily the most cinematic of the songs on this record. This song, more than the previous two, is the one where you sit and have a smoke and a think with your chin resting on folded hands. You escape into this song, kind of go into your own head with it. "Kabuki Snuff Theater", by contrast, is a real lurching beat-'em-up tune, little cues to Shellac's more pissed off moments and Helmet without the weirder chord voicings. It's the most straightforward rock song on The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (considering the title sounds like it would be part of Naked City's oeuvre and we’ve been over the lysergic weirdness of Naked City over and over on this blog) and the shortest, as well. Perhaps it’s the most accessible for newcomers to Tyranny is Tyranny but, even if it is the most accessible, it would be a terribly misleading first impression and I suppose that’s why the band placed this song next to last on the record: Yes, they make this kind of music but, moreover, they have tendencies to thoughtful, delicate passages to intertwine with the heavier moments; “Kabuki Snuff Theater” doesn’t do “delicate”.
And then we come to the end: “Victory Will Defeat You”. Fucker is fifteen minutes long so buckle up and fix a cocktail, kiddoes.
Again, I feel pressed to invoke the name Explosions in the Sky. And the intro is five and three quarter minutes long.* But it’s a part of the ride, so just enjoy yourself. I mean, at least this Tyranny is Tyranny know how to use those five and three quarter minutes. As mentioned earlier, they pay attention to song craft, so the intro is compelling and holds your attention and you, the listener, are rewarded with the heaviness and complex arrangements, guitars that weave around each other, death metal chants in the background, passages that come to abrupt changes... Basically, you’re getting three or four songs in the form of one. Think of all the changeups in “Dopesmoker” but this is more emotionally compelling, more intellectually stimulating. You’ll enjoy it, you really will. I trust you will. Here, give it a try.

* Grouses the guy who wrote “At Once Smitten”, which, if you’ve heard KRAKOA, you know is 40BPM for seventeen minutes, and that’s just the recorded version, so I really have no place to talk shit about long intros. For real, that intro was just bbbbbaaaaahhhhhmmmmm bbbbbaaaaahhhhhmmmmm bbbbbaaaaahhhhhmmmmm bbbbbaaaaaWWWWWEEEEEHHHHH repeat ad nauseum.

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