Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wife Of God - Starring

Wife Of God

Death By Audio Records.

SCQ Rating: 63%

There’s an id invested in noisy psych records that I respect but rarely enjoy. A compulsion to raucous disharmony that amplifies and distorts all emotion with adrenaline-pumped authority. For me, this aesthetic has always seemed a one-way street, with a current that’s easy to follow but unwilling to impart many subtleties along the way. Wife Of God, the debut release by Brooklyn-based quintet Starring, feels gridlocked between bouts of unwavering catharsis but occasionally swindles a muddled side of arty ambition into the roar.

What’s challenging about a record this combustible is that the shift between promising and pulverizing can happen rather suddenly. The title track hammers this point home by turning an alluring lead of fluttering farfisa and looped guitar into a smattering of claustrophobic psych riffs and light vocoder-dusted vocals. ‘She’s Extended’ offers another provocative opening with a collage of voice and static that trembles between left and right speaker. Problem in this case is that the song never arrives; its experimental come-hithers merely act as a segue to bridge the frenzied assaults. Of these pulse-quickening jams, ‘Get Over Here, Disco!’ and ‘Sonnenbrille’ offer the most nuances; the former a tribal blast of hippie chorals occasionally interrupted by some biting distortion, the latter building into a warm apex of farfisa and horns. Sure, you have to really listen to discern these embellishments beneath the crashing urgency of Starring’s basic guitar-and-percussion strategy, but these efforts hold more psychedelic connotations than revved up garage-rock, no matter how ferocious.

Even though these structured freak-outs steer a given song onto autopilot, it’s worth noting that these jams never sound uninspired. Matt Marlin’s drumming is thunderous throughout and the vocals (shared, I believe, by all members of the band) manage to meet the force of these compositions without resorting to a scream-fest. Mixing no-frills psych with a touch of Akron/Family’s far-out mysticism, Wife Of God warrants attention from out-there purists. Lucky for Starring, I don’t think this genre attracts any other kind.

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