EP, Flenser Records / Music Ruins Lives
February 25, 2011
Genre: Experimental/Electronic Doom/Noise/Industrial/Post-Punk
Here's one of those 2011 releases that I didn't listen to soon enough but had heard of vaguely throughout the year.
Wreck and Reference are a hard one to place and describe. The Flenser describes them as "pure misanthropic electronic doom". They're clearly influenced by the likes of Big Black and Swans to some degree, and I would even compare them to Have A Nice Life and The Angelic Process in some sense. Lo-fi, noisy, DIY basement/bedroom industrial doomgaze pop? Sounds idiotic and contrived but Black Cassette is definitely a unique and challenging record which really can't be boxed in by genres. One of those love or hate releases.
Vocals are what I noticed right away, clean and a little off key with that Dan Barrett style of singing from your heart, and there are very short sections where he reaches a yell you might hear in hardcore or screamo. Lyrics are focused on the "darker components of existentialist philosophy including the non-existence of god and fated death." From what I can glean from other sources the only other elements used outside of vocals are live drums and an MPC which other than samples takes the place of a guitar and bass, and to be honest until I read up on it I almost couldn't tell it wasn't a guitar/bass. It's used exceedingly well throughout the record to conjure a bleary, despair-filled atmosphere. Drums range from slow and sludgy to jazzy to a hardcore/black metal pace, doing a great job of throwing you off before laying a nice foundation to the gloom.
There are some interesting sounds to be heard here and a big dose of atmosphere to be enveloped in. Black Cassette has very ethereal and melodic moments interlaced with the heavier machine-like trudging. "Surrendering" starts off quiet with what you would swear was a bass with creaking samples behind it, eventually squirming into a dense and noisey haze with a wicked warped synth section. Melodic, intense and depressive.
"In Chains, Awakening" throws you for a loop with a fast drum section that moves into a satisfying bassy, distorted groove that grows, getting louder and louder as the drums pound and the vocals dive below the noise. "Evening Redness" starts of twangy and sludgy with pained yells and ends with a bouncy coda heavily affected by the volume nob and some ace drumming. Halfway through "Desire, Ether" a huge switch to a psychedelic and very heavy industrial doom sound is made, very gloomy and dark. All the way through its strange knowing what you hear is not a guitar though some moments do jar you just enough to question it.
I think Wreck And Reference show great promise and have laid down something strange and bold here. This definitely isn't for everyone but I certainly suggest giving it a try. It's grown on me immensely. Those who like Have A Nice Life, Swans, Big Black, Mamaleek, etc. should take a chance on Black Cassette. You can get a copy on vinyl over at The Flenser and you can download it for free on bandcamp.