XUP: Feed the Wolf Inside
New album from XUP is one which manages to turn the following into sound –
” A primal creature that shape-shifts between predator and prey and dances between the chase and the kill”. This review is about how the sound turns people into the notion. By Ryan Walker.
Oh my god, Bass. Oh my god, Drums. Oh my god, Voice. The elision of all works best when there’s nothing else in their way. It’s just the bass, the drum, the vocal, and the images they manage to convey. Logically then, the new album from XUP, Feed The Wolf Inside, must convey one hell of an image. It’s their 6th album to date, and as a celebration of this special number, 6 vinyl pressings of the record will be released. I use the term ”their’’ throughout. But this isn’t a band. It’s one individual. One woman. Operating all machines. And these machines, belong to her.
Disconnect seems to enforce the joining of one point to another. A mechanical beat begins everything, a fuzzy bass seems to swagger into the room, and the clear the bar. The vocals seem to both soar and seduce and finally ensnare everything which enters the outskirts of comfortable territory. Fascinating are the chopped up beats and the random howls into the night. Feed The Wolf Inside is a strange kind of creature, crawling on its belly of the desert’s mysterious base. With its intricate enmeshment of bass and beats, tentacles and teeth discharging from the same subject, with that spellbinding vocal candy calling us from above the tough pulsations of industrial punk power. It’s Suicide and the Banshees. It’s Chicks on Speed in pairs of neon Nine Inch Heels. CSS spliced together to form one forceful pop organism. It’s hell on earth with a sensational, heavenly stench. Every experiment with sex, every experience with death, every device in life, manifesting itself here on the shapeshifting bloodbath dancefloor.
Drawing us into the Dark Place, with every stick of bone, and piece of meat on the plate, are a fast chattering of claps and rush of rumbling bass guitar, mining away at the dirt, and in doing so, those fine, gleaming nuggets of gold jump forth and shine. An entanglement of voices, approach, and attack, from all angles. The guttural grooves of the whooshing bass lines are incredible. Like axes through arteries. Natural harmonics ring and sustain, awake and aroused, in tight latex clothes, shaking the ribcage to a pathetic pile of leaves, making good use of space in a cobweb of exciting beats like a robot city jig. A bed shared by many voices provides the tales of torment by way of ”staying awake’’, by ”completing the sick disease’’, that need for something, stronger than a hot spoon of something sweet and sticky, delivered with the visceral drive and the menace of a carnivorous reptile hotel, emerging from the dust, before dragging each guest into the dark.
One could easily visualize these songs being played live. Without bullshit. Without ego. Without a pair of big, hairy testicles swinging between the inner thighs, and favors the act of castrating that archetypical image of macho, demon, redneck rock with one swipe of the bass and shot of the bazooka in the direction of this hideous, industry-standard patriarch. They are sick and twisted love songs, unsticking themselves from the seats, unpeeling themselves from the sheets of steel, but still, they return to where they arose for further indulgence. Breathing down, and biting into, the side of one’s neck, the tunes explode and evolve, envelopping all they take hold of. An opportunity for the body object to slot into and slip inside those deeper, darker, cells of the animalistic twilight when one sparks a cig and the start of the apocalypse resounds aloud from the cosmic cynosures of one’s bedroom.
So, bow your bastard head at the altar of XUP during the Waking Hours as the sirens of the nightly metropolis scratch your face paint from the skin. Savage chants emerge from both sides of the skull, a charge of damaged bass guitar struts and spit something acidic in the eyes as itchy, untamed drums flicker and fall, trip and tumble into everything before it like a bulldozer through a tower block.
Same goes for Cut you Open, or the equally eerie, Alexander. Teetering, electronic drums electrocute the grooves, all wired and galvanized and fearlessly teasing the nerves. Moody, angular shapes played on the frets unheard of to most bass players persist in kicking things into action. A way to test the pressure. A way to push forth and pulverize. Severing one thing and suturing it to something else. It’s part spoken word – a mistress with a machine gun stands before the bed carrying the keys to a man’s chest between her teeth. It’s part melodic enchantment – a supernatural electro blues sprawl of succinct, yet equally erratic noise, unleashing itself into the solid earth.
The radius of such an act must surely reduce the Big Man’s Shoes to a pair of size 5 kickers. The droning voice, the disturbing sincerity of the secrets spilling over the top as true love’s doll rolls around on their ”hands and knees, on all fours’’, a ruthless assault of sonic warfare whereby bass guitars are atom bombs and dizzying, delirious drums fire through flesh like fragments of glass into nasty city crowds and tremble to the lower levels of hell.
Such a notion must surely demand we Play Louder. And we do. We feel pleasure when we put ourselves through hell. It’s punishing. With one whisper into the inner ear, the wall of concrete is nothing but a sheet of paper. With another whisper into the other inner ear, cries, and calls for help, voices of various ferocities and fragilities inject a spike of something sharp into all valves available, all veins exposed and animates all corpses from the modern slumber.
The bass guitar, by now a familiar thing of beauty, seems to spill and bleed over an unchained kit of drums that don’t stand still or settle for silence for too long. The gallop and the zealous dance of Lips on Mine will confirm this further. The Mustang bass, ungoverned by laws of gravity, is entrancing. The mutated vocals, which we wrestle with like veins, but soon after are nesting with as our own, are utterly unstoppable. And the relentless traps of percussion, catch us and convince us, that bands are boring, that men are idiots, that bass is both glue, and glitter, and that finally; XUP is overseeing it all from the pedestals she, herself, has built. And we must Play Louder. We must Pay Attention.
The physical and digital download copies both include a 15-page e-book
with liner notes, lyrics and cover art.
Ryan Walker is a writer from Bolton. His archive can be found online here.