Yellow Swans & Birchville Cat Motel - Birchville Cat Motel & Yellow Swans (Important Records CD)
Important have made a career out of being on the ball and that's exactly where they are with the release of the first collaboration between California (by way of Portland)'s Yellow Swans aka Pete Swanson and Gabriel Mindel Saloman/GMS and New Zealand's Birchville Cat Motel aka Campbell Kneale. Though the art for this release looks archetypal of Kneale's tacky wallpaper slipcases for CDs released on his own Celebrate Psi Phenomenon label, this one actually comes in a cardboard gatefold replete with interior artwork courtesy Kneale himself. Both the tracks here were recorded in New Zealand in 2005 in person - Yellow Swans don't do no mail-order hook-ups. It's the real deal or bricks, brother.
If you twisted my arm until it hurt I would probably have to tell you to stop, and then say that in the tango of these three gentlemen, Kneale leads on track one and the Yellow Swans take the helm during track two...that's just the kind of vibe I get. "Terminal Saints" is the first one, and at half an hour long it's more than a stomachload. For the most part it's tinged with the kind of shrieking, supernova guitar calls that Kneale has come to make his signature, backed all the while by fringy spiked electronics and vocals from the Yellow Swans duo. At times Kneale's guitar sounds like something really rusty and huge like a massive church bell or something being swung back and forth, and at other times like a brilliant purple gamma ray from outer space, and still yet like the feeling of melted white light sliding down your throat. Gabe and Pete meanwhile spurt out lots of harsh, drawn-out and burnt homemade-electronic zig-zagging, like you know they do effortlessly by now.
"Marble Carcass" is the other, shorter piece but at 21 minutes still isn't an easy pill to swallow. It starts off angrier and messier than the other piece, with Kneale adding all sorts of psychedelic squiggles over the Swans' ferocious din, sounding the closest to a "Love and Noise"-circa C.C.C.C. as I've ever heard, maybe like a 21st century version even. They even ratchet up the noise quite a bit and get to a sound somewhere between several steel chains being stuck in a blender and a barfing robot. Hell yes. Safe to say this tune reminds me a lot more of the "psychic" side of the Swans than the first one, although I think I preferred "Terminal Saints" more if I had to pick. It's just so much more immediately...identifiable, I suppose.
Cool disc on the whole, and it'd probably appeal to fans of both genres though I'd categorize the sound as being "Yellow Swans with a BCM influence" rather than the other way around. It's all good though, and all tiding me over until the much anticipated/dreaded Birchville Cat Motel/Matthew Bower slobberknocker drops...when-the-fuck-ever that'll be.