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From the Valley: “Atheist Neckbeard,” Seagulls Fucking Seagulls.

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I’ve wanted for a while to get more local music content onto this blog, as well as more commentary on music recorded since, oh, 1977 or so.

Only recently did it occur to me that there’s probably a great big universe of Lehigh Valley musicians putting their music on sites like Bandcamp and ReverbNation. (This did not occur to me until after I did it myself.)

This is ideal for a suburban stay-at-home lard-arse like myself. Instead of thumbing through bins at tiny record stores or slogging to smoky clubs, I can sit in the comfort of my own basement and check out the sounds people are making all over the region.

This is the first in what I hope to be a long series of posts in which I review and comment on recent online releases by Valley-based performers.

I don’t plan to give them numeric ratings, because everything’s filtered through my taste, and my taste is different than yours. I’ll just share my thoughts, and you can take ’em or leave ’em as you please. And, of course, I will link to the music.

No one can accuse me of picking a safe or easy choice to start…

# # # # #

I have seen rock n’ roll future, and its name is Seagulls Fucking Seagulls.

I’ve always wanted to write that line, even if I didn’t know it ’til just now.

But seriously: This is the age of the one-man band, the basement visionary who suddenly has a wonderful tool to send whatever sounds come out of his head to anyone and everyone around the world.

In this case, the one-man band is an Allentown-area electronic noise musician called Pory Nog.

Senor Nog has self-issued 10 full-length albums under the pseudonym Seagulls Fucking Seagulls. Atheist Neckbeard, released just a few weeks ago, is his latest.

Atheist Neckbeard consists of seven songs of (mostly) full-on machine-shop grind n’ squeal, with titles like “my mind flies through the universe” and “i talk to ghosts;;;we have a thing going on.” Two of the songs top 10 minutes, while a third doesn’t miss by much.

Some of it is bracing, like showering in cold water, or maybe mercury.

Some of it is weirdly appealing, like watching massive robots appear out of sheets of sheer metal, cuff each other about the ears and step back into metal again.

And some of it … well, from time to time, it just sounds like that rattly cut-in-cut-out noise guitars make when the output jack needs tightening, or the feedback noise you hear when two little kids turn their walkie-talkies on while standing next to each other.

(I suppose I am obliged at this point to state my noise-rock credentials, lest people say, “He just wrote two weeks of posts about the Bay City Rollers. How can he appreciate noise music?”  I also happen to like Metal Machine Music, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band and free jazz in limited doses. So I bring a reasonably receptive ear to this music.)

I think I like melody too much to totally give myself to this music.

That’s not to say that SFS’s squalls and shrieks don’t imply their own melodies from time to time; part of the fun is finding them.

But probably my favorite moment of Atheist Neckbeard is the brief, spiraling keyboard melody at the beginning of “06-08-2013.” It contrasts nicely with the noise surrounding it and gives the ear something to latch onto, which is not a bad thing, even in an aggressively noisy milieu.

“Shooting Stars,” a simple synth drip-drop collage reminiscent of the early ’70s, also offers a port in the storm for listeners who like to keep at least one foot in the familiar. You’ve heard it (or something like it) before, but it works as a brief break from the sizzle and hiss of the other songs.

I’m less of a fan of Mr. Nog’s voice, which pops up on a couple of the songs with stray howls, laughs and imprecations. I’m challenged to explain why I don’t like it; I think it’s because the music is so redolent of machinery that the presence of humans just seems distracting.

In the end, I don’t think I could listen to Atheist Neckbeard on a regular basis. But I had no trouble getting through it once, and enjoying some of the sonic textures.

And it did a nice job cleaning my aural palate, the way free jazz or Metal Machine Music have done on other occasions. I find it helpful, from time to time, to listen to something that completely resets my boundaries.

Give it a try. See if it cleans out your ears too.

Atheist Neckbeard is available as a name-your-own-price download here.

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One response »

  1. I will repeat my request for exhaustive exegeses of Canadian musical legends who are little known in the US on this blog. Chilliwack, Doug and the Slugs, that Ukrainian Canadian chick Luba – the possibilities are almost endless.

    Reply

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