Friday, 14 September 2012

Heavy Blanket - S/T

Since only about nine people will read this, I figure there's no real problem in pasting an email I wrote to a couple of friends about this album last night, adding a couple more sentences, and calling it a "review". For anyone else who stumbles across this and has not heard of Heavy Blanket, they have a wacky fictional (...or is it?) bio that you can read for yourself here.

All that aside, the short version is that Heavy Blanket's self-titled record on Outer Battery Records consists of J Mascis throwing down relentless guitar solos/jams over a rhythm section that pounds like a freight train pushing itself up a big hill. The bass is huge and strikes the right balance of punchiness and twanginess (technical terms, obviously), and the drums kick the whole thing along with a deceptive arsenal of fills and flair.

But it's that fuzzed-out, delay-filled guitar work that soars above everything else to steal the show. Mascis rocks over, under, behind and ahead of the rhythms to whatever distant plane his whim is drawn to, and the character that makes his heavier moments his best pours out of the speakers. But make no mistake, this is no Witch rehash. Aside from the fact that Mascis is back on the axe, it's way more loose and free than that. The whole record plays like it's live. And it wants to be turned up loud.

In some ways (and here comes the bit from last night's email), this shit feels like a bizarre, twisted version of one of those guitar clinic videos where some smirking fuck is displaying his otherworldly chops and we're all supposed to be learning something from him, or otherwise just sitting there dumbstruck with gaping maws and glassy eyes to inflate his already enormous ego. But it doesn't have all of that control, pretentiousness or contrivance about it. It's rough, lo-fi Earthless, with the swirliness removed and the drums and bass thumping along all dirty meat and potatoes while J furiously hammers his fretted cock at you like a gurning, sweat-soaked predator who gets off on making unsuspecting bystanders watch, ripped out of their skulls.

And I love it.


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