Wolf Eyes/Failing Lights/Spykes/Nate Young - Split (Troubleman Unlimited 2xLP)
I got to the point of wondering how many more Wolf Eyes releases I actually needed quite some time ago. As opposed to many people who've already hit their cut-off point and simultaneously hopped onto the "their old stuff was better" bandwagon like we were talking about Metallica. Even though I could probably stick to the Sub Pop Wolf Eyes releases and not miss too much of the whole picture, every now and again I can be bothered to shell out the dough for another one. This one was of particular interest to me because the individual members can often produce work more interesting than when they're functioning as a whole, so I had to figure this Troubleman Unlimited double (a reissue of a 2xCS on Mike Connelly's Gods of Tundra) would keep my attention at the bare minimum and not break the bank if it didn't. I believe it's the second double LP ever for the band, with the other one being last year's "River Slaughter" on Hospital Productions. It's also a picture disc, so that'd make it their first ever double LP picture disc for anyone out there who's keeping score. All you really need to know going into this one (as if you didn't know it already) is that Failing Lights is Connelly, Spykes is John Olson, and Nate Young is Hatred but that's irrelevant here since he's using his real name. Why would you even bring that up? Sheesh.
First off, I'll preface this by saying that the way the sides play out is not in jive with the way they're listed on the sleeve sticker (the only information included anywhere with the record). I know this because my excellent sleuthing skills detect Wolf Eyes as the D-side and not the A-side as the cover would imply. As for the other three solo sides, I don't have nearly the bibliography required to make a case study for who's who, so I'll just wing it and hope I got everything right.
I'm thinking Connelly's Failing Lights goes first, because it's a super spaced side of sparse synth semantics and droning, flipping loop scare that somewhat fall sin line with like the one other thing I ever heard him do on his own. Connelly evokes a sound fully reminiscent of a dimly lit, abandoned industrial warehouse...buzzing of faltering fluorescent bulbs and creaking of massive steel doors all included. Sounds like the kind of dark matter I'd pin on Connelly but I couldn't pick out his axe in there for the life of me, don't mean it wasn't there though. Or not, whichever.
The flip starts with some of the most horrible screams I've heard ever coming from the trio, and that's at least part of the reason leading me to believe it's John Olson's Spykes project. Of all the solo releases I've heard from the three, no one's noise can get more ragged on a routine basis than Olson, and it sounds like he's in fine form here. Because a scream is just what it is, birthed/aborted from some junky tabletop gizmo, looped onto itself three hundred times over and embedding itself into your subconscious. I don't doubt that this is what it sounds like inside the head of, say, Leatherface. The latter half plays out in similar repeato fashion, although muted in comparison.
Nate Young was pretty unprolific for a while, but he seems to be catching up these days with his Hatred and Demons projects, not to mention the great A.A. Records label. Deductive reasoning holds him responsible for side C, a dense, gnarled, scraped sequence that threatens full-on cerebral hollowing. With all the wavering pulses and scrambled machinery pulled apart throughout, it's something that'd surely cause vomiting played through headphones after a night of not-so-heavy drinking. The deteriorating basement drones are blue shock-style waste-laying; that drool's gonna be stone cold by the time the coroner find you.
As is customary for any three people sharing a double LP, the last side is the Ceremonious Jam Session although as one might've expected from the relatively subdued nature of the other three sides, the band aren't exactly firing on high here. In fact, this is a lot more in the vein of the subtle viscosity "River Slaughter" stirred up than any fist-pumping rock out you could think of. It's still pretty nice and it's got a little of everything (except vocals) - from saxophone down to the gong strikes and general guttural, burnt harshness. Definitely a more pensive (nay, streamlined?) approach but if you were a fan of "Slaughter" or any of the group's previous, er, quieter moments, you'll dig it. I wouldn't call this an essential Wolf Eyes release, but it's an interesting one. And you could do worse if you're a fan.
The packaging is ultra-minimal, and I meant it when I said the sticker on the front was the only info you're going to get because the gatefold is plain black through and through, "Smell the Glove" style. The picture discs themselves look great though, a whole lot better spinning on your deck than in that picture. As of this writing, the split is "pretty much gone" from TMU, although with 1000 copies pressed, I'm sure you'll find it elsewhere for a long while.
Failing Lights - Untitled (excerpt)
Spykes - Untitled (excerpt)
Nate Young - Untitled (excerpt)