MT6 is a record label based in Baltimore that puts out primarily experimental rock music. As such an engine of unabashedly abrasive music, their output isn’t going to be for everybody. Before receiving my package from MT6 in the mail, I thought I listened to some pretty out-there music, but I can honestly say that I’ve never really been asked to talk about any kind of music like this before. And I fear I was sadly unequipped to describe what I was hearing. It took a bunch of listens, but eventually I began to tease apart the different strains and come to a consensus on what I liked and what I didn’t.
There really isn’t any comparison between what the popular record considers experimental or lo-fi, and what comes out of MT6. However abrasive Thurston Moore is playing guitar with a drill, it’s still not as jarring as the majority of MT6′s releases. Jason Willett and Jad Fair you might have heard before, but they are only the tip of a jagged, shadowy iceberg.
There’s sometimes a tendency in musical criticism, or whatever it is I do on afternoons off with a CD player and wordpad, to reduce a band down to a few easy comparisons. Some people get up in arms about this practice and some don’t worry much; I tend to fall in the latter camp, because name dropping is frankly the best way to turn people on to new music.
With these MT6 Records, pointing out those grazing touches of influence isn’t rewarding, mostly because the vast majority of what I’ve heard from this label has no concern whatsoever for influence or fitting into a historical setting. It is very much music for the moment it is made, and the moment you hear it. You won’t hum these songs to yourself in the morning when you wake up. In fact, I’d wager that 99% of people wouldn’t be inclined to listen to these songs more than once.
The first bit for review, because it’s the first thing I listened to, is the MT6 Early 2009 Sampler. When I first sat down, I attempted to take careful notes as I listened to each song, and while I enjoyed some (and absolutely loathed others), more than anything I found myself completely bewildered as to how to review the material.
So I did what came kind of unnaturally to me.
Ignoring my critical English-major background, in the grand tradition of Lester Bangs, I drank a few beers, (get it, “empty six?”), etc, etc, and let fly with the notion that every edit is a lie, a notion this record label obviously appreciates. So love it or hate it, I honestly don’t care, this is what went through my brain at the time of hearing these songs. I can’t say that I actually enjoyed more than a few of the tracks on the sampler, but that’s something I feel fine with, because I can’t imagine anyone being all for all of these songs without being criminally insane or completely unable to define what they enjoyed.
(arranged alphabetically because, although it makes a good reference, I can’t imagine anyone would feel the desire to read this all the way through)
MP3: Abiku. “Novelty”. Abiku is murdering techno. So many of these songs sound like somebody was dying in the background when they were made and this is no exception? The singer has one of the most impressive girl screams on the planet. She sounds like an animal dying. I hope she gets a role in the next Friday the 13th movie.
MP3: The Agrarians. “The Mirror Travels Above The Ocean”. I honestly have a bit of a bias for this band because they recorded across the street from where I grew up. Litereally. I grew up at 1414 Hull Street in Locust Point, and this song was recorded in what was formerly the crackhouse adjacent to my dad’s old favorite bar Joe and Jen’s at 1359 Hull St. Matt, if you’re reading, I don’t think we ever met, but are you Bobby Perzinski’s son? You kind of sound like Jim Morrison. Nice job. Represent.
Animal Twat. “Fuck Your Cocaine”. Like if GBV played alt-metal riffs and had idiotic lyrics. I can’t be sure but if this is supposed to be a play on words; if it is, it’s an explicitly poor and unfunny one. And if it isn’t supposed to be, it certainly comes off that way.
Bad Liquor Pond. “PainKiller”. This sound is downright conventional, the only band yet not to declare war on eardrums. Just enough of a four minute tease before sending you back to the noise fascists with a soft-on for a real song. Definitely the standout track on the CD. I hope more people take notice of this band.
Balance. “44″. Unbelievably uninteresting loop. At 4:51, the longest song on the sampler and it feels like every second.
Blakk Sweat. “Strange Mouth”. Very soporific qualities to the music on display here. Actually fairly pleasant, but not exactly attention grabbing. Par for the course.
Can Openers. “You Can’t See Me”. Thurston Moore was so conventional that he played guitar with a drill bit. These songs are actually household appliances played with a guitar. Robots can play that shit. Robots are playing that shit. What an undeniably fucked up track.
CAVEMEN!!!. “Cut the Tank”. Lots of screaming and poor recording quality. Not too fun.
Chief Pokawa. “Baked”. Really? I personally stopped finding marijuana fun when I was about 18, but now I like it even less since it’s on a mix with so many bands who are probably enamored with more terrifying psychedelics. You should smoke this at the end as a comedown.
Chin Forces. “Transport”. Breaking out the Death Cab riffs, then trashing them with some slasher guitars. Ballsy. No vocals. Could have been better with vocals.
Cream Center. “This Song Is About Fucking Dragons”. Has a hint of texture, which is a nice thing for a band to be attentive to. Fairly one-dimensional, though. I wish the song went somewhere and that they bothered to record the singer in a way that I could understand the lyrics. I don’t know why so many of the singers on this record want to sound like cartoons.
Decapitated Hed. “Blood on Hands, Poop on Dancefloor”. A pretty satisfying display of rhythmic consciousness makes this track a standout. But, as with many of these songs, I wish more happened. You’ve got four minutes of my time. Don’t give me the same thirty seconds over and over.
Dirt. “Where are the meesers?”. Has some interesting sounds and great juxtaposition of the female lyrics with the rhythm (she occasionally could be mistaken for Bjork) but lacks any kind of changes in instrumentation, dynamics, or tone. Plus the lyrics are just retarded. And what an unimaginative band name. They so stole the name from the second Alice In Chains album.
Engine. “Practice Makes Purple”. Sub-interesting tribal noise experiments. But its not really that noisy, just has a few boring noises strung together.
MP3: Jad Fair and Jason Willet. “Or So I’ve Been Told”. The two biggest names to have become with MT6. Bouncy arcade music with an insane ringleader conducting the circus. It’s hard to consistently make music this off the wall so satisfying, and these guys have their fair share of bad apples, but they’re still batting way better than anyone else.
Pat Grant. “Expectation Blues”. Fairly boring and stagnant ballad. Tiny alterations in the vocal harmonies sustain the song.
Hazardous Guadalupe. “AudioVisual Education”. This song gets my vote as the worst on here. I’m usually not so glib as to completely trash a band because most bands have done more with their musical abilities than I ever have. But I can confidently say I’ve made better music than this. So could you. Have you ever whistled tunefully? Drummed your fingers on the tabletop? You’ve done better than Hazardous Guadalupe.
Heroin UK. “ShitStorm”. What is this AC/DC cock-rock. Whatever. I at least appreciate the attempt at making a real song, even if it is only a few of the most basic alt-rock chords.
Herschel Hoover. “Opener”. Standard angular melodies and driving riffs. Another of the few normal sounding songs on the record. Pretty well done.
Human Host. “Hatched”. Where else to begin. Insano metal acid trip gone bad kinds of guitars, but that’s not really fair because most bad acid is more fun than this song. Reminds me of the first time I listened to Sebadoh’s Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock and “Crysis” came blaring from the speakers. Except that song let up at some point. And so does acid.
Le Harmacy. “2″. Sorry no Sebadoh references here. This is minimalistic prog-rock atonality. Definitely the truest to experimental rock of the 70s. Not quite a classical influence but definitely a hearken back to the jazz-fusion (especially on bass) that dominated that style’s predisposition towards shitty mainland European confusion rock. Thanks NEU!
MP3: Rickman. “Hard 2 Be Me”. This kind of sounds like it could be a Beatles riff that opens the song. The rest is pure acoustic weirdness. Not a bad little song with a cool structure. But is there anything worse than using a “2″ to say “to”?
Rosemary Krust. “For Today”. Takes us on another transcendent trip through “The Black Angel’s Death Song.” Hardly the voice of an angel though. Pretty creepy track.
Newagehillbilly. “Sonic Rehab”. MT6′s head honcho Alex Strama’s latest project. Alex should have the Natty Boh tattoo replaced with a DMT plant. Lo-fi death trip music.
Talibam. “3″. Tuneless excuses for making noise. I honestly won’t remember this track more than a few minutes from now so why bother describing it.
Whistletips. “Excerpt”. There’s so little to this song I can’t really describe it. Some kind of feedback loop at very low frequency. It sounds like something Tool would have put between songs to make them seem like they were really mysterious.
MP3: Jason Willett. “SRIURFXRET96″. The kind of noise collage I’ve come to expect from Willet. I prefer my songs to have fewer stitches and more transitions. Still a fun run down the sonic pastiche spine.
The Wire Orchestra. “Square Roots”. Very patience draining. Occasionally alarming. Mostly a boring story with some occasionally comic lines.
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