A weekly round up of the best (and strangest) action on Bandcamp from artists in and around Pittsburgh.
The Incandescents – “Empties”
Pittsburgh garage trio The Incandescents have released their first true full length album, almost exactly one year removed from their initial six-track release. In that time, these three guys have tuned into their own sound at a decent clip, shedding the crutch of the fuzzy dependency of Ty Segall’s zeitgeist.
Of course, the lo-fi garage worship is steeped in “Empties,” but The Incandescents find doors to open in their song structure and melodies that allow them to escape the banality of cookie-cutter Bay-area indie. Weaved throughout the album are traces of classic rock licks and single-guitar melodic bars, resulting with an album that sounds closer to a release date in 1975 than 2013.
The trio made the frugal and unfortunate decision to self-record and produce their album, and it shows up at too many points. “Empties” is a painfully homogenous dish, a 30 minute spin cycle of recurring guitar tones and empty drums, with only a precious few moments of creative respite. A friendly recommendation to The Incandescents from a pretentious critic: next time splurge on a sound engineer.
Hot track: You Wouldn’t Know
Arbitrary emoji rating: 3 out of 5 tornados
Dendritic Arbor – “Split w/ Infinite Waste”
In the past I’ve described Dendritic Arbor as “blacker than a nun’s eyes and crusty as fuck,” and since then the Steel City’s resident crossover metal practitioners have only become more brazen and, holy shit, way noisier. The newest release from Dendritic Arbor, a split with Oakland, CA’s Infinite Waste, is a testament to persistent evolution, a submission of composed chaos that is synonymously current and progressive.
The split album is the first release of the newborn Gloom Pit, based out of Columbus, OH, and it promises to be a high standard for the fresh label to hold itself to. Dendritic Arbor’s released track is an explosion of sound and fury that delivers on what the band has built for audiences across the country over the past handful of years. Snake Oil is a three minute sprint through contorted guitar riffs and strained vocals, held together solely by precise, yet unpredictable, drums.
If those seem like cop-out buzzwords to you, well, they kind of are. This track sheds the borders of whatever any critic may have used to describe Dendritic Arbor for their past releases. Gone are the parameters of blackened crust, sludge or crossover nomenclatures; all that remains is a sound that exists only in the consciousness of all things depressed and dying.
Unfortunately, this album comes with bad news. Two members of Dendritic Arbor are leaving the band, so the remaining musicians are on a brief hiatus to regroup. Still, the band is sure to have better days ahead. This split is sure to garner attention, seeing as it was recorded in Kurt Ballou’s (Converge) legendary GodCity studios (High on Fire, pg.99, Nails).
Hot track: Snake Oil
Arbitrary emoji rating: 4.5 out of 5 pufferfish
WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST LISTEN TO?
Bandcamp allows any artist to upload whatever they want to the site. Some artists take that idea and run with it. Here is the weirdest thing from Pittsburgh on Bandcamp this week.
Brian Riordan – “Dark Was the Night”
I usually use this space to point to artists I’ve found under Pittsburgh’s bandcamp tag that I’ve opined to be either so completely unoriginal in their mediocrity or completely culturally pointless that I felt compelled to write up approximately 200 words designed to point and laugh at them. It is complete schadenfreude and gives my (one dozen) readers an intimate look into the sad narrative of my existence.
But not this week. This week I found Brian Riordan and, holy shit, this guy gets it. Riordan is composer and musical improviser based out of Pittsburgh who is just too fucking weird to be crazy. This guy is a genius, I swear to Christ.
“Dark Was the Night” opens with a minute-and-a-half composition of recordings taken around the museums in Oakland, including a crosswalk signal, a motorcycle and buskers. So what?, you’re surely asking, Anyone can do that. And you’d be right, but there is a simple, refined familiarity in the composition. Also, he did it first.
And then the album just opens up. Jesus Christ. In the second track Tetrachromacy, Riordan gets other musicians to buy into his fevered lunacy and the group constructs a ghastly, simply composed seven minute track that really only gets going around the five minute mark, but you HAVE to listen to it.
Riordan has channeled whatever made Samuel Beckett so fucked up and genius here. Who could he possibly be derivative of in this album? John Cage? David Bryant? Steve Reich?
Yeah, probably, but no one else is doing it, so I’m digging it.
Hot track: Tetrachromacy