Thursday, 30 April 2009

Banjo or Freakout - Upside Down EP (Half Machine 2009)

Banjo or Freakout sound like that fuzz-drenched moment on My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’ when the dissonance breaks for a 4 minute romance paean to broken love (‘Sometimes’). Like Kevin Shields before him, London-based Italian Alessio Natalizia creates heart-thumpingly aching music in the epicentre of a fuzzy distortion pedal turned to My Bloody Valentine setting (the one after 11, presumably). The acoustic distortion of opener, the title-making ‘Upside Down’ allows a war before ooohs ahhhs and a pounding acoustic guitar, while his voice passionately feels its way through the mix. ‘The Week Before’ allows tinges of electronics and tribal pounding drums to wade through the rippling sounds of a bath running. It’s like a repetitive psychedelic nightmare curated by Panda Bear on ‘Person/Pitch’. The choruses allow for a rush of guitars to filter through driving an urgent strum through the beeping mix. ‘Like You’ is all pounding basses and squawling guitars duelling over a lost love, pleading her to ‘kiss me now’. The star-gazing reverb pop then mutates into a strange, mostly instrumental tribal pulse and thrash while disjointed voices erupt around your years. A strange sitar is alone in the far-off distance, unsure of itself, on ‘I and Always’. With an Allez Allez mix of the throbbing ‘Mr No’ to end proceedings on an uptempo high octane fuzz and dance finale, it’s a perfect introduction to a blog favourite. Banjo or Freakout is able to translate emotions into guitar noises with impressive versatility, never quite emerging from a lo-fi tunnel of his own nightmareish introspection. It’s strangely beautiful and discordant all at once, like Kevin Shields expertly told us guitar thrashing could be. Essential and excellent and effortlessly powerful music.


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