I like to think of him as a kindred, younger spirit to Shellacs Steve Albini: well-thought and often intentionally shocking, not for the enjoyment of shocking people, but because shock is often a useful tool in creating provocative art.
Prior to listening to Depth & Current, the first LP from the eponymous band comprised by Harris, drummer Scott Twitchell and Derek Lemke, I liked their music in the casual way that I like the bulk of locally produced music: I enjoyed it more for the knowledge that I was acquainted with the artist or producer than I actually cared for what was coming out of the speakers.
While I felt this tepidity for their 2009 EP, Arms, the feelings been replaced by full-bore fear and excitement for this new album, which sucks and swirls heavy, noisy mixes of grungy guitar and shoegazey vocals into the same dark hinterland where Albini and My Bloody Valentine get plastered and swap dirty jokes. Its a beefed-up, scary improvement and a terrific recording in its own right.
Stark, ominous guitars crackle across album opener Chkill, accompanied by some scene-setting spoken word about a place where pagans go to have a good time. While Depth & Currents scenes and moods do change track to track, its this one that introduces the listener to the thematic notion of haunting, which Harriss otherworldly vocals constantly remind of. Much of the lyrics are indeterminate, or otherwise shoegazey, blurred and stretched by effects that give the sense that the singing is coming from the bottom of a very deep, stone well.
When you can tell whats going on lyrically, its not just gloom, doom and woe, however. What unfolds is an individualists success story (see Pick Yourself Up and Side by Side), the notion of triumph reinforced by the heavy, deep echo of Harriss voice. The gloom, doom and woe is coming from outside, from a society in turmoil.
Midway through the record, Lost marches along at a funereal pace that it doesnt deviate from, with vocals to match. Red Haute Sects packs a greater sonic wallop than its punny name implies. Minefield sounds like just that.
Such sonic force is sure to kill live. Dec. 8 cant come soon enough.