Religious Knives - Luck/In the Back (Heavy Tapes 12")
No rest for the wicked, right? Like, I thought I was going to be caught up with the Religious Knives happenings till their new LP but I just saw that they went and put out yet another 12" after this one - "In Brooklyn After Dark/The Hand". Would've been nice to get that one and talk about it here too (since this 12" leaves me with only about 15 minutes of music to discuss) but what're you gonna do. I'll just wait for the new record, whenever it comes about. I also passed on the "Remains" No Fun CD of a while back, but that's because I think I already own just about everything it collects...though that's never really stopped me before. I also gotta say that I'm feeling this new Table of the Elements style logo/packaging deal, though "Luck/In the Back" keeps it real with typical (if you could ever really call it that) Maya Miller doodles on the back sleeve. Weird trend going on with the albums discussed this week and their monochromatic, text-only LP covers...I hope I can find a similar one tomorrow and keep the streak alive.
So of course Maya Miller is present here, you know Mike Bernstein is as well, and you may have even known Mouthus drummer Nate Nelson was in the fold too, but did you know they're now a four piece with the addition of Todd Cavallo on bass? Yup, looks like a set lineup too, but for how long is anyone's guess. Last I saw them, RK were just a trio with Nelson only having recently joined and they slayed (slew?), beating out all sorts of salaciously structured borderline-tropical jams what murdered the sweet spot. The two tracks here aren't quite as jovial, but they're still grand in their own rights. "Luck" is a supreme slog recorded apparently not long after the group was involved in a car crash, which may explain the title depending if you're an optimist. It's largely driven (no pun intended) by Maya's synth and Mike's extraordinarily morose melodica lines like a wounded loon crying out from the other side of the lake. Nate's drumming remains steadily in the funereal sentiment and by the time Bernstein steps to the mic to deliver the distantly hypnotic refrain of "I waited too long/but you never did come", I could be bowled over by the gentlest of breezes. Really, really great track that easily stands along the best I've heard from the group, duo/trio/quartet/whatever. It reminds me a lot of the theme from Midnight Cowboy, which is also nice.
"In the Back" is more immediately aggressive, with synthesizers (and guitars?) pushed into the red forming an abrasive pulse over which Mike and Maya trade buried shouts and drawls. The overall effect is very much similar to the suffocating miasma pursued in Ramleh's classic "Eightball Corner Pocket" track, minus the acoustic guitar and the U.K.-accented screaming. And also throw in an incessently pounded drum beat a la Neurosis on "Through Silver in Blood" and you're nearly there...wherever there may be.
I'm curious to see if any tracks from the new Religious Knives 12"s will see re-release on the LP. I can't speak for the TMU 12" but both of these pieces deserve an audience greater than the smallish print run this Heavy Tapes record will afford it. Particularly "Luck", which flattens me no matter how many times I play it. You could either play the waiting game and risk missing out completely or play it safe and snatch up one of these. You'll just have to ask yourself one question...
Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album