Ever thought you’d want a lyric sheet for a Lightning Bolt offshoot? Here in Black Pus, Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale superimposes blur-speed, free-jazz percussion on a molten tar of low-end synth, then layers it over with some surprisingly melodic vocals. It’s both immediately recognizable and a dramatic departure from his work with the RI noise band, pitched somewhere between the intricate chaos of, say, Flaherty-Corsano, and the modal punk anthemry of Parts & Labor. The vocals are so striking – and so heavily altered – that you kind of wish you could hear the words. No luck, though, Chippendale sings to make rhythm, to add texture, to hint at song-structure, but through a tin-can-phone-cord of distortion, so that only phrases jump out from time to time.
Though pummellingly dense, All My Relations is a true solo project. Chippendale drums like he’s two people, rattling out a rhythmic phrase on one part of the kit, then answering it in kind from another. He also manages, through the kick drum, to trigger loops and samples, using a drum mounted oscillator that produces a thick, viscous low-end sound, somewhere between a bass, a synthesizer and a mortally wounded cookie monster.
Melody arcs out of this primal soup of conflicting sounds in the form of Chippendale’s mic-altered singing. “Fly on the Wall” works especially well in this regard, its foundation a head-battering, cymbal slashing, manically propulsive bit of noise abrasion, its vocal a reverbed beacon of new wave tunefulness. Later, “Hear No Evil” is not just anthemic but nearly operatic, an interleaved chorale of wordless singing. It reminds me a lot of Oneida’s splintered shape singing, its rhythm-battered, overamped music box reveries.
Lightning Bolt has always leavened sonic assault with a sense of fun, and so, too, Black Pus has moments of surprisingly buoyancy. The single, “1,000 Years” applies a particularly light touch to auditory mayhem, its upbeat thwacking rhythms, its rollicking roil of bass-like sounds, its cartoon squiggles of high-end synths, all hinting at a kind of optimism. “All Out of Sorts” too, starts in friction and turmoil and ends in a screaming, white-out, noise ecstasy, a kind of overloaded bliss and chaos.
None of these songs (well maybe “Hear No Evil”) will really shock long-term Lightning Bolt fans – but they do depart in interesting ways from the main project. It’s as if Chippendale battered apart the tough shell of frantic noise punk and found a pinata’s worth of tunefulness inside, a nice reward for all that violence.
DOWNLOAD: “Fly on the Wall” “1,000 Years” “Hear No Evil”