Saturday, 28 September 2019

Scrat - Scrat EP.

Album: Scrat EP
Artist: Scrat
Label: Nailed Nazarene Industries
Catalogue no: N/A

     1.      Subterranean Marketplace Transaction.
     2.      Purchase.
     3.      Volume.

Scrat the band is Scott Ballard and Rorac Johnson, while Scrat the EP is a short three-tracker of about ten minutes’ duration. The band themselves define their brand of music as noise, musique concrete, avant noisebleed, Santacruzcore, and porn grind. In all honesty, for once I am going to be deferring to the band’s own descriptions of what their music is, based as it is around manipulations, improvisations, tape loops, and samples, which make it nigh-on uncategorisable, which futhermore makes it all the harder to describe adequately. It very much reminds me of early Smell & Quim (I am talking early nineties here), at least what I remember of them, a collage of styles and ideas that get blurted out and are done with almost instantly, but without the tongue-in-cheek approach of S&Q. This is not to say that Scrat’s interpretations aren’t any good, it’s just that they’re coming from a completely different angle, and that their compositions are more abstract and nebulous, their music a series of concatenated sounds built around a looped background and field recordings, all held together by percussion and drums, eliciting altogether darker and more unwholesome reactions.

‘Subterranean Marketplace Transaction’ begins quietly and unobtrusively before an almighty growling exhalation intervenes that could be the prelude to something heavy and gargantuan: against expectations a disturbing laugh breaks out (‘That was fun!’) and completely shatters the anticipated sonic assault, followed by some dark ambient-like sci-fi/cosmic warblings and doodlings. It gives off an almost psychopathic vibe, especially with that laugh, and it honestly sent shivers down my spine. A good start, and quite an unexpected one at that.

‘Purchase’ begins with staccato bursts of noise, which abruptly jumps into a background of playground voices accompanied by furious drumming and a male voice. This one is especially slippery, the only consistent aspect being those voices in the background: the only thing I could think of was that this is describing a drugs purchase being conducted in a public playground or housing estate, and even then I feel like I’m stretching. However, it’s extremely listenable in its own elusive and jumpy way, and I actually liked it.

The final piece, ‘Volume’, brings one into familiar noise/industrial territory, featuring machine buzz and what sounds like a tiger making low growling noises in its throat. It’s certainly tempestuous and stormy, and drives along at a jittery but boundless pace, rolling along with a certain modicum of exuberance. Perhaps we’re looking at an unstoppable behemoth, obliterating everything in its path with uncaring abandon, a killing machine bent on killing and destruction.

The tagline used here is ‘Listen and enjoy… if you can’, which for me conjured all manner of assumptions about what the music would be like but I can honestly say don’t be put off by it, because it is certainly listenable and can definitely be enjoyed; if there is any criticism to be levelled at this it would be that perhaps the three pieces could each have been a tad longer, allowing for more exploration and a slightly broader canvas on which to delineate the ideas expressed in them. As it is, there’s a lot to get to grips with and not too much space or time in which to do so: but what is there I found intriguing enough to hope that a longer exegesis will be forthcoming in the not-too distant future. In all fairness this is nothing more than a sampler, a taster of what Scrat could produce if they’re given a little more room to play in. They’re definitely an outfit to look out for in the future.

Available as a download from here:

Psymone Marshall 2019. 

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