Black Pus – All My Relations (Thrill Jockey Records)
19 March 2013
One man band, Black Pus‘ new album, All My Relations has drums, drums and more drums. Paul Scott-Bates listened to it and was impressed.
Quite remarkably, Black Pus is the work of one man. One man with a real sense of being something different and judging by the percussion on this album, one with biceps like Popeye. Unless you’ve seen the punk-thrash-electronic-alternative-metal section at your favourite musical retailer, then I would challenge you to categorise All My Relations.
Brian Chippendale is a madcap drummer, previously part of Mindflayer and Lightning Bolt. His style is nothing short of unique, often sounding like at least two drummers knocking six bells out of the skins at once. Growing up I was always a fan of big drum sounds – The Glitter Band with their Burundi beat and Adam And The Ants’ mirror imaged beat makers – Black Pus could well be the natural progression from that.
Seven years since the first Black Pus album, Chippendale has replaced the free jazz saxophone with a drum-mounted oscillator fed through drum pedals. The result is a marvellous continuous thumping bass sound which has been the want of Bjork, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and The Flaming Lips over the years.
A wailing voice with drums ensuing into an almost tribal sound marks the start of Marauder. A drum solo that sounds almost intuitive and improvised rather than pre-planned, with a shouted vocal sounding quiet behind the mix. The voice i far enough back to be incomprehensible with the distorted oscillator complimenting looped words and screams. At over nine and a half minutes it’s probably one of the finest openings to an album you may ever hear. No formula, just pure power and aggression. Angry, intense and slightly worrying – brilliant!
Fly On The Wall carries on the extraordinary drumming with a vocal comparable to Mark E Smith – slightly distorted, sounded like it’s sung through a loudhailer. Interesting mix with the oscillator right at the fore, with the drums second and the voice at the back, which makes it very unique and inviting. Much faster than the album opener and a superb track to play loud, this album really hit me hard on the second listen.
Don’t be lulled into thinking that 1000 Years is a change of pace with it’s more conventional rock ‘n’ roll drum entry, it soon explodes into a terrific barrage of sound enough to make your ears bleed. Some additional electronic ‘rewind tape’ effects and voice that is almost pub singer (not in a derogatory way, just that its muffled style makes it unable to pick out words). More electronic effects ensue to compliment a quite outstanding track.
It’s not always insane percussion on All My Relations. Almost, but not always. Word n The Street is pure chaos. A mangled intro and a thumping baseline, not unlike Dan Friel’s latest album, Folklore. Music to invade your skull and mess with your head like a raging Portion Control racing down the side of a rocky mountain. All Out Of Sorts throws in loads of scratching sounds complete with Jack White styled vocal from the debut Dead Weather album. Hear No Evil couldn’t be further from the truth with a hook that burrows into your mind and won’t, I repeat won’t go away!
I’ll be honest, as Nowhere To Run and the ten minute epic A Better Man close the album, I’m left wanting more. It’s a superb album with more pounding than a hangover after a 24 hour drinking session. Deeply original and very slightly disturbing. But most of all, a corker of an album.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is Heaven Is A Place On Pendle. Paul has been working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, easily one of the best radio shows on the BBC. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow his personal twitter, @hiapop.