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Saw a Halo

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Album Review

On Saw a Halo, Mouthus, again with the help of Samara Lubelski, further explore the realms of what can be called extremely shadowy music — not necessarily the clearest of pseudo-genre names, but apt for what's being done. If anything, as the opening track "Your Far Church" shows, the spirit of some of the most experimental early-'80s rock from New Zealand has taken on new forms here, as the combination of steady chanting, echoed gongs, and treated guitar (or autoharp?) suggests the work of This Kind of Punishment or Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos. It's not an exact comparison point but it shows that whatever can be considered noise in the 21st century is just as given over to understated withdrawal as screeching collapse — which is in fact where the immediately following song, "Armies Between," ends up. Generally speaking, Saw a Halo fits into the extremities of that song for the rest of its length, with the kind of scrawling, cryptically aggressive drone/howl that invites meditation as much as anything else; by steering away from recognizably metal riffs in favor of more no-wave-derived experimentation, Mouthus arguably aim here at high-volume ambient sound. It's a well-traveled route on its own now as well, but Saw a Halo works well on that front, nearly every song blending seamlessly into the next and showing distinct differences in exact approach rather than simply being arbitrarily chosen. Thus the softly spoken and more immediately rhythmic "Century of Divides" feels miles away from the focused grind and growl of "Wave Through," a chugging monster that itself is immediately contrasted with the mix of calm gentility and phased outer space guitar mania that characterizes the closing "The Gift of Sighs."


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Combining the effects-heavy guitar excursions of Brian Sullivan with the free jazz stylings of drummer/percussionist Nate Nelson, the Brooklyn-based Mouthus utilize a combination of dense instrumentation and squelching, overloaded noise to create a sound that ranges from dark and ambient to piercing and tortured. Through a string of CD-R and vinyl releases, the duo has distinguished itself in what is arguably the hub of noise/experimental music on the East Coast, becoming a regular fixture at the...
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Saw a Halo, Mouthus
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