Tuesday 26 October 2021

Loose Sutures - A Gash with Sharp Teeth and Other Tales (2021)

Country: Italy
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 15 Oct 2021
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

Here's something interesting from Sardinia, a second album by a band who describe themselves as a "blend of hard-stoner rock with a pinch of garage spirit and modern punk attitude." That's not unfair but it misses out a retro mindset towards psychedelia. While the instrumental opener, White Vulture, is very much stoner/hard rock with fuzzy guitar and subdued pace, that's not everything in this band's arsenal and Stupid Boy promptly highlights that.

It ditches both the subdued pace and the instrumental approach in favour of something untamed and frantic. The idiosyncratic vocals are truly wild, a lofi holler that combines Screaming Jay Hawkins with Fred Schneider of the B-52s, delivered through a Rudy Vallee megaphone. The guitar is as rhythmic as the drums and its tone hints at an electronic pulse that isn't otherwise here. There are sound effects at odd moments as well, such as a breaking glass. The end result is as close to a psychobilly outfit like Demented are Go as it is to a heavy stoner group like Monster Magnet and it makes for a fascinating mixture.

They haven't betrayed all of their influences yet and the eight remaining tracks continue to highlight other facets of their sound. Sunny Cola adds the Doors and Black Sabbath at once, especially during the heavy psych midsection with its guest solo by from Marco Nieddu, the founder of Electric Valley Records, home to Cancervo. There's more Sabbath on Last Cry too, but a different Sabbath, this one aiming at simple but effective riffs rather than slow doomy heaviness. But Sabbath are a gimme of an influence. The second half of the song adds some Hawkwind bass and space vibes to underline the fact that texture is as important to Loose Sutures as anything else.

This is an album to listen to, of course, but it's also an album to feel. I enjoyed this as a piece of music, closing my eyes to listen to, say, the instrumental midsection in Mephisto Rising, which barrels along as effortlessly and as characteristically as the underrated instrumental midsections in songs like War Pigs. But I felt it too. This album is made up as much of dry dust in your eyes and the smell of gasoline and the sweat hanging in the air of a bar after the gig is over and everyone's gone home as it is beats riffs and hooks.

As you might imagine from that, this is a dirty album that almost has to start out used and abused. It would be weird to walk into a record store and walk out with this album in pristine condition. It ought to be something you discover like buried treasure in a dusty crate underneath a market stall in a city it had no right to have ever visited, like a souk in Marrakech. Sure, the cover had been folded at some point and it's bumped around the edges and there's dried blood on the inner sleeve, but it tells you in no uncertain terms that you have to buy it and you never regret that spur of the moment decision.

I just wish I could figure out all the influences. I can recognise a lot of the classic rock in here, even if I can't identify which specific song Last Cry reminds me of—I was almost singing along on my first time through but couldn't quite find the wrong words. I'm still learning about stoner rock, which is clearly the primary influence here. But there's rockabilly and punk and garage and even a bit of psychedelic pop here too and I'm just not well versed enough in these genres to pull out who Loose Sutures grew up on. I just know that I'd love to see a list to turn into a sonic rabbit hole.

I've mentioned most of my favourite songs thus far—Sunny Cola and Mephisto Rising—but there's one more that I haven't got to yet because it wraps up the album. It's Death Valley II, the longest piece on offer at six and a half minutes (ironically making it as long as the shortest track on yesterday's Dream Theater album), and it's as wide open as everything else here isn't.

The garage angle to this album means that we're agreeably trapped with the band inside a cramped venue with the sound and sweat and charisma dripping off the walls. Death Valley II is more a desert rock piece in that it feels like we're outside in the middle of nowhere, the band jamming on a stage a long way away even though the sound carries to us perfectly in the wind. Oddly enough, Death Valley I doesn't feel like that, but Death Valley II is a great way to leave us because we're already halfway out of there as it's playing, even if we hear every note and it all stays with us for the rest of our journey, however long that takes. I like that.

No comments:

Post a Comment