Wednesday, December 05, 2007

On the Fence: Future of the Left and Times New Viking

This year brought two of the loudest fracking bands I can recall in recent memory releasing two of the most difficult, visceral albums conceivable. As the year rapidly comes to a close, I would be remiss not to mention them here. Off-putting and divisive, these two albums inherently challenge you as a listener to look past their grimy exteriors…only to reveal even more crust and noise underneath.

Respectively, Future of the Left and Times New Viking seem to prey upon the lo-fi, noise-core pretenses that are placed upon them. This is not enjoyable music as a rule. It’s nasty and merciless and attacks you; but it leaves you wanting more. While the two groups and their similarities are largely superficial, they both instill a whimsical aura of personality, progress and bravery that hasn’t been all that prevalent in recent years.

Future of the Left contains no less than 2/3 of the dear departed Mclusky. Picking up where that trio left off, Curses (their debut album) assaults the senses in a similar way but all but rips to shreds the previous band’s mode of operations. Mclusky, with all of their sharp noise and blistering undercurrents, had a vivid identity and an interesting sense of humor. Future of the Left take that same fuck-all attitude employed by Mclusky but amplify it to fruition within jangled riffs and jabbing drum timing that comes off in surprisingly atypical fashion. It’s all very uncomfortable, thrilling, and funny at the same time.

Times New Viking utilize a decidedly more lo-fi aesthetic; the fuzzbox distortion; the discordant mashes of sounds; the dirty, chugging bass lines; Times New Viking seem to almost ask you to leave them alone. The Paisley Reich is like a no-wave orgy of distilled influences, malicious noise, and sinking feelings. However, there are distinct moments (as there are on Curses) when you can see just how skilled the group is at these caustic melodies and structured simplicities that lay in wait beneath these electric walls of grime and filth. You see then that there is more to it all than just posturing or nastiness. There is talent and method.

While these two albums remain on the “fringe” of what you could call enjoyable music, Curses and The Paisley Reich are arguably two of the most exciting and interestingly crafted albums of 2007. Future of the Left and Times New Viking both seem to appeal to the worst of your senses, but endear themselves to you with their brashness and obvious talent. Together, these two bands may redefine what “loud” actually means.

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