Monday, December 26, 2011

BEST OF 2011: Part 6!

"Sister, the slaughter has already begun..."
The Video Dead (1987)

Urban Gothic
(Not Not Fun)

When I hear electronic dance music I usually do one of three things: 1) ask for my coffee in a to-go cup 2) press eject on the VCR or 3) toss my last four crumpled dollars on the rack and call it a night. It always sounds like some cold not-too-distant future dystopia to which I have not been invited where everyone wear's pointy shoes and has geometric hairstyles. In the stuttering din of synthetic beats I am primitive man recoiling from fire in dumbstruck awe. But possession takes many shapes and apparently some people prefer to shake their asses in the neon glow of mechanized darkness. Who am I to judge? This is a fantastic record for shaking your ass if you are so inclined or, in my case, sliding on the headphones and disappearing into the limitless abyss of inner space. Justin Sweatt is your captain on the Xander Harris starship and you are in good hands. Just don't turn your back on his charming exterior and easy smile. He is a devoted horrorhound who channels menacing spectral frequencies into his deceptively accessible booty beats. Sweatt understands the dynamics of 80's horror soundtrack scores on an intuitive level and there are certainly echoes of John Carpenter, Alan Howarth, Brad Fiedel and Claudio Simonetti pulsating through this debut full-length LP. The movie in your mind opens with a track fittingly titled Opening Credits which boasts the most jarring disco bounce of the entire collection- almost as if to intentionally throw unattuned listeners off the intoxicating scent of blood and burning aluminum that soon wafts through the sound waves in angular plumes. The House and First Body follow with plodding rhythm not unlike the more somber moments of Goblin's score for Dawn of the Dead. The Hunting is an alluring composition that builds to a brutal...uh...climax with nonchalant true crime confessionals anchoring the proceedings to some decidedly bad vibes. After the exorcism gone wrong on side two you open your eyes and find yourself in some nondescript European gay club with iridescent floor panels wondering what was in your drink and how the hell you got here. But just as you turn to leave some mysterious vamp with impossible cleavage takes your hand and guides you down a darkened hallway. You follow. This isn't exactly John Balance's anal staircase but perhaps something more horrifying, insidious and inescapable awaits, if only because it beckons so innocently. Somewhere a woman is screaming. She won't stop. Slaughter on the dancefloor!!!! Roll credits. Fade to black. Apparently there's been a lot of soundtrack worship creeping into the shoe and screen-gazer underground in the past few years. I guess some people call this hot new craze "witch house" and that sounds like a clammy underage Adderall party that I don't wanna attend (which is good since, like the future, I have not been invited). Fortunately Urban Gothic always remains bounds ahead of the bullshit. I should mention Matt Hill's Umberto because this dude also does horror homage right. His latest 7" Freeze is a pretty fun spin but a bit more self-conscious and goofier than his earlier full-lengths. Check out Prophecy of the Black Widow. Now that's a fucking record. Or if you wanna cut to the chase and experience a genuinely disturbing listening experience you can always throw on Jay Chattaway's brilliant Maniac soundtrack, which was re-mastered/re-issued this year in a ridiculously limited pressing that sold out in about two hours.