It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring Oort Smog’s full bodied noise jazz release EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER, and Sprints timely post-punk adjacent thrill A MODERN JOB!
Oort Smog – EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER
Genre: Noise Jazz
Favorite Tracks: N/A
For the many beautiful pieces that exist within Patrick Shiroishi and Mark Kimbrell’s discography, there’s an unparalleled level of intensity and might brought about when they go for the most piercing and powerful sounds they can conjure. For every one of Shiroishi’s Fuubutsushi projects or collaborations with Claire Rousay, there’s an album where tension and madness take center stage. EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER positions itself as one of the strongest entries in both Kimbrell and Shiroishi’s discographies, a 29-minute journey through dense avant-prog, light chamber jazz, and punky jazz rock orbiting Kimbrell’s unrelenting drumming and the many voices of Shiroishi’s saxophone—overwhelming and heavy yet with an immense amount of passion and care put into every moment. Slowly composed over eighteen months in the midst of the pandemic and protests for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER balances fury and calm on a switch with hairline sensitivity, every blast of noise situated around the album’s softest and sweetest passages. Though the influences they draw from couldn’t be more distant at times, it’s the shared constraints of the styles they inhabit that make the album such an engrossing, magnificently cramped odyssey.
Starting with Shiroishi’s saxophone at its most naked and unvarnished, wrapped in reverb and delicate harmonies atop chilly droning electronics, it’s not until Kimbrell’s snappy percussion kicks into gear that Shiroishi begins to weave the tangled webs of dissonance and squealing woodwinds the album feasts upon. What helps tie all these different elements together is the singularity Kimbrell and Shiroishi strived for while writing the piece. EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER seamlessly transitioning from its jittery jazz-rock midsection into the maddening brutal prog that dominates the latter half of the album. The constant ebb and flow of the duo’s energy throughout allows them each to explore the extremities of their respective instruments without taking away from how the piece progresses, Kimbrell’s percussive onslaught perfectly following the winding path of Shiroishi’s gangly melody starting about 18 minutes and 30 seconds in, and sneaking in his own compact drum fills in between before Shiroishi starts pulling out some of the most atonal and squeaky textures imaginable from his saxophone, Oort Smog just as willing to indulge in noisy experimentation as they are intricately woven jazz-rock when the perfect moment arises. Though they only include just a few ingredients in their twisted incantations, Shiroishi and Kimbrell make EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER such a brilliant piece by understanding the power of both improvised pandemonium and marvelously composed instrumentation, Oort Smog shifting in and out of each at a moment’s notice and letting their heaviest desires rule above all. It’s a whole lot to take in, but by the end you only want to dive into the whole thing once again.
It’s a short listen at just a little under half an hour, but Oort Smog stuff so much into every second that the album feels nearly double its length—whether they’re exploring the emptiest expanses of their sound or trying to burst open the core of a planet with saxophone and drums alone, EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER is a relentless and reverent attack on the senses, where every saxophone howl or percussive clang lights up your entire nervous system and paints as vivid a photo in your mind as the impact it has on your ears, Shiroishi and Kimbrell with an intimate understanding of one another as instrumentalists and taking turns burning all their energy as individuals to reconvene together and use whatever’s left to push themselves to the brink of exhaustion. It’s by far the noisiest project Los Angeles label AKP Recordings has put out to date, and that alone makes it one of the most exciting albums to come from them this year, positioning the label as not only one of the best places to find innovative takes on ambient and electronica, but anything and everything that falls under their ethos of creative, thought-provoking, and glowing left-field music. Oort Smog knows exactly what they want to do, and the ample space EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER provides doesn’t let a second go to waste. Along with the 12″ vinyl LP and a beautiful T-shirt, EVERY MOTHERFUCKER IS YOUR BROTHER is available for purchase on the duo’s Bandcamp. You can see the accompanying music video here! [Lurien Zitterkopf]
Sprints – A MODERN JOB
Genre: Indie Rock
Favorite Tracks: “Little Fix,” “Delia Smith”
Of all the trends to emerge in recent years, one to note in big, bold marker is “who gives a shit? rock.” That’s what I call that bare-bones, sing-speak-style of garage rock championed by the likes of Wet Leg and Dry Cleaning. (It’s also very British—coincidence? Maybe not!) It’s certainly been a shot in the arm for modern rock, and a way to distill all that latent excess and bombast into great tunes whose thin, underfed tendencies remind us of the genre’s greater grit and heft. Even if, at the exact same time, it all can feel a touch derivative and a little too honed in on certain sonics and motifs.
This brings us to another band firmly in this club, Dublin’s Sprints. Over the last few years, the band has released a few singles and EPs, including the most recent release A MODERN JOB from earlier this spring. Each release leading into the EP was a perfect distillation of this super-minimalist genre, while the EP by comparison works because of a big driving thread of huge sonics and bigger emotions that thread across each song. “How Does The Story Go?” for instance, builds on from what could be a solid Dry Cleaning B-cut into this cathartic release of shredding dissonance and singularly angsty shouting. Even a song that’s markedly similar from a structural standpoint, like “Delia Smith,” feels novel and vital thanks to a subtle-but-impactful shift toward blazing alt rock energies. It’s not rocket science, and Sprints demonstrate that the true magic’s in how you dress up the formula of witty, lo-fi garage rock jams featuring annoyed English narration. That, and in these songs little things can land extra huge.
Still, there’s not any truly profound shifts to these songs. The title track may turn up the pace and pitch a bit—and those harmonies are hugely effective in building the emotional depth—but at the end of the day it’s a mostly lateral move. Same for “I’m In a Band” (it’s so much like “Delia Smith”) and “Little Fix” (still, the slower tempo and general sensibilities make something that feels more passionate than detached and ironic). Would just a little more—dissonance, technical prowess, nuance, etc.—push the band’s formula into newer and more daring heights? Definitely. But as it stands, the band’s approach is, as readily mentioned, pretty earnest and deliberate. It doesn’t so much hurt the album–you could argue it breeds a powerful sense of identity–but it does sort of keep everything pretty safely in a preordained box. But the EP makes clear it can often be a wild one, indeed. In short, if you love a current wave of UK post-punk adjacent acts, Sprints will expand your collection with something similarly weird and charming. And if you don’t, then you’re better off exploring, like, hyperpop or something. Listen to it now over on Bandcamp. [Chris Coplan]