Friday, November 26, 2010

Ultrabunny Volume Merchants / Unsafe At Any Age

Too lazy to read this? Click here to listen to a robo-reading with clips from the LP underneath.

Volume Merchants / Unsafe At Any Age from Ultrabunny:

Volume Merchants sets this LP in motion. Four songs starting with Small War, a gurgle-drone of brooding robot frog talk with eerie alien sounds of flying saucers scanning for life. I swear I hear a sooty factory toiling way down in there, like the kind Henry walked home from in Eraserhead. It's too low to be sure. I might've imagined it. Medium War moves away into Confusion Is Sex tribalism. Which is fine, even though I could have melted into Small War for hours. Large War and My War finish off the last half, sometimes getting a tad tedious from some pedestrian rock patterns, but still wailing and pounding at a destructive pace. Once My War dives into a finale of feedback and wide flange, the mood comes close to returning to the shadowy Small War beginnings. The side is for sure at its best when building up to what's about to get torn down.

When I put this LP on for the first time, I started backwards with Unsafe At Any Age. I was folding laundry while thinking about the consumerist crank of black Friday. But I snapped out of this mundane bullshit pretty quick thanks to this record. This is my third listen now, and it's this side that I dig the most. The demented furor of the second song, Fight War, introduces helium high bellows which carry over into the manic march of Not Wars, with vocals at an equally perverse octave. All the guitar and bass no-wave clangor is a lovely boiling of urgent ideas and immediate impulses. But the absolute brilliance of Hot War takes the cake. It is almost five minutes of laughter on the brink of tears, the maddening cackle of people that have lost their minds. The loop carrying this bedlam is like the inner groove of a shattered 45 spun in slo-mo. A ghost of a siren signals, but is unheard, engulfed by endless cracking-up. Not War pulls you out of this with tones modulated into what feels like an exit sign blinking into being in the middle of a black hole.

A great record all around. The moodier parts reminded me of Religious Knives, but I admit I wanted something a little more from a few sections of Volume Merchants. Nothing as savage as say Sword Heaven, even though the thought crossed my mind. All of the LP was recorded live on location by Malcolm Tent on various dates throughout January of 2010 at a slew of spots, from NY, NJ, to here at home. This is all improv that was then "stitched" together at Salon TPOS, and based on the dates of the performances listed, I think the assemblage is completely anachronistic. "Each side of this LP is a suite, meant to be enjoyed as a whole" reads the back, along with a recommendation to take a break between sides. Because these guys are on the older side, they have way more living and listening under their collective belts. So the experience this LP offers is focused and intense but with plenty of room for your own twisted sense of what they're getting at.

Volume Merchants / Unsafe At Any Age is on limited edition black vinyl, 300 copies $8, or 14 copies with individual cover art $10 from TPOS Records.

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