Album Review: Pfisters – Narcicity (Fan Death Records)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  1. MP3: Pfisters – She’s Mine
  2. MP3: Pfisters – Cluck-U

Pfisters can be found in their native habitat, the live show, TWICE this weekend: the DNA Test Fest III pre-party at their home-base, Ruintown on Fri Apr 2nd, and the big show proper on Sat Apr 3rd at Sonar.

Punk for the musically capable is what crossed my mind on the first playthrough of Narcicity. That assessment certainly holds up when you break down Pfisters’ membership: the trio is comprised of Jason Donnells (The New Flesh), and Glenn Gentzke and Darren Bolk (both ex-Trash Camp), a veritable treasure-trove of local out-there rock talent.

Pfisters, (much like the New Flesh) forgo the mind-numbing and simplistic repetition of technically mundane elements, essentially eschewing the bricks and mortar for the majority of punk that takes off fast and hits hard. Guitar and bass on this album rip with startlingly proficient abandon and a garage-y twang; drums manage to attain accuracy both rhythmic and arrhythmic, whether flailing into anemic disintegration or propelling forward in tightly meted phrases. They also dabble in unpredictable tonal progressions and chords. However, their true hat-trick is that this release manages to pack so many elements that would normally be considered abrasive and challenging, into something effortlessly listenable. I attribute this partly to their uncanny ability to carve melodies out of madness.

The other part, I am laying squarely at the feet of guitarist Jason Donnells’ vocal wanderings. He readily admits there is a lot of “nonsensical” lyrical content; instead, “the process is an abstract one that focuses more on phrasing and delivery.” And more often than not, it strangely works. The slithering ear-worms of a rambled and slurred vocal line often feel like the tenuous and guiding sinew of the tracks. “Kavachi” opens the record with a bit of spastic guitar reminiscent of Ponytail. Donnells centers this track on a bug-eating high school classmate, and his fantasy of “ganging up…stringing him to the undercarriage of a school bus.” You can almost hear the taunts and jeers in the guitars and swooping vocals.

On “Princess Bride,” the trio revs up for almost half the track before hitting a wall and dissolving into new time. Like screeching out a 180-degree turn with the E-brake: the transition is tense, exhilarating, borders on losing grip, and emerges pistons firing. Lyrically, the track touches on Donnells’ thoughts about “…traveling and touring, and opening and headlining shows for…contemporaries who would eventually get much bigger…bands like Clockcleaner, Pissed Jeans, etc.” He is careful to note, however, that “the whole mood was less jealousy, but a pride I had about doing it right, really putting a product out there I was proud of and happy with.” You can almost chart the transition, from the chugging first half to the prideful second half of the song when its big hook sinks into you.

“Botfly” opens with a full-on punk assault before settling into the alternating pattern of a more settled garage verse followed by a chaotic and disorienting blast of noise, channeling the disruptive, parasitic nature of the titular organism. ”She’s Mine” kicks off like the best thrash track you’ve heard in ages, with a free-wheeling guitar line that tears through your speakers. The careening, almost intoxicated feel of the track might have something to do with its inspiration: it is rooted in Donnells’ fantasy about an attractive girl at the gym, and “thoughts of kidnapping her and putting her in my room in a cage, and hoping she would succumb to Stockholm Syndrome and fall in love with me.” “Cluck-U” is an allegory by Gentzke about “the commonality of eating and schooling.” “Attending Johns Hopkins is like eating Cluck-U‘s 911 wings,” he muses. “Everybody eats every day, but some choose to eat something punishing.” By emphasizing dissonant and imperfect intervals, they deliver on some of that abuse.

If there’s one area where this album might suffer, it’s that some of the tracks can blend together. I should be clear though, this is never rooted in boredom or a lack of quality. When this is the worst criticism that I can leverage, I know it’s a solid release and I’m just stretching. Narcicity will kick your ass and leave you aching for more. And you’ll like it.

Label: Fan Death Records (buy here)

Release date / Format: Mar 03 2010 / Vinyl 12″

Track list:

  1. Kavachi
  2. The Princess Bride
  3. Ruintown
  4. Botfly
  5. She’s Mine
  6. Stillman
  7. 3 Feet
  8. Cluck-U
  9. Ships and Sharks
  10. Red Pearl
  11. Drag

Related posts

  1. Preview: Pfisters @ Ruintown (2010.02.19)[Audio clip: view full post to listen] MP3: Pfisters –...
  2. The Death Set – "Worldwide" album reviewThe Death Set are about to make Baltimore’s next major...
  3. Album Review: Lizz King – All Songs Go To Heaven (Ehse Records)[Audio clip: view full post to listen] MP3: Lizz King...
  4. Album Review: Monotonix – Body Language (Drag City Records, 2008)[Audio clip: view full post to listen] MP3: Monotonix –...
  5. Album Review: Perhapst – Perhapst (In Music We Trust Records)[Audio clip: view full post to listen] MP3: Perhapst –...

2 Responses to “Album Review: Pfisters – Narcicity (Fan Death Records)”

  1. [...] high above anything these guys have done before. We’re not the only ones who think so either. Aural States agrees with us, and lists Narcicity as recommended [...]

  2. [...] high above anything these guys have done before. We’re not the only ones who think so either. Aural States agrees with us, and lists Narcicity as recommended [...]

Leave a Reply