Phantomsmasher - Self-Titled
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Phantomsmasher
Self-Titled

James Plotkin is a crazy man, and I mean that in a good way. Since 1988, he's been at least partially involved in over 80 musical releases, many of which have formed from his own vision. He's collaborated with tons of cool musicians (including Michael Gira, Mick Harris, John Zorn, and many others), released music on a whole slew of different labels, and worked on everything from ambient to hardcore smasho. Basically, over half of his life has been devoted to making the music that he enjoys, and if that's not the good life, then I don't know what is.

Formerly known as Atomsmasher, Phantomsmasher is the newest collaboration by Plotkin, and it falls into some weird post-hardcore, electronic, spazz-out wasteland. Comparable to moments of the aforementioned Zorn's Naked City, Phantomsmasher finds machine-gun drumming mixed with electronic beats, angular guitars, and more electronically-squiggled voices than you can shake a stick at. If it were less brutal, it might fall into some free-jazz realm of some sort, but if you're one of those people who needs a genre to stick it in, we'll just call it "post-thrash."

Starting out with "Bishop Hopping," you get an idea of things right away as Dave Witte starts off pummeling the drum set as Plotkin adds guitar and bass. Eventually, the drums speed up to superhuman speed, and the realization that digital trickery is definitely at play as DJ Speedranch adds vocals run through the digital blender, (although they don't sound too far off from some of the crazy stuff that the Boredoms have done). Speedranch again adds creepy vocals near the end of the track, as it takes a quiet moment, and they almost recall a cooing baby before the assault begins anew.

"Anubis Innertube" works much of the same areas, again dropping the rapid-fire drumming and thick guitars while Speedranch warbles over everything. About halfway through the track, though, a light shines through the dark, and even though the drums are still going warp-speed, the droning layers almost lull you into thinking it's an ambient moment. Oh yeah, and then things start romping even harder than before. Most of the tracks on the album work some of the same ground, but it's the noise assault mixed with slight quiet moments that provide the tension of the album. Unlike albums that build into huge crescendos and give you a release there, this is an album that goes full-throttle nearly all the time and only provides you with moments of release during the few quiet moments.

Because of that, it's a release that will definitely only appeal to a certain group of people. It's noisy as all hell and there aren't really any songs on the disc that even follow a typical song structure, but that's part of the fun. You're just sort of along for the ride as the three fellows drag you kicking and screaming through an audio junkyard of guitar shards, drum spasms, and vocal tics. As mentioned above, fans of Zorn will probably lap this up, as well as those just looking for a kick in the pants. Spastic!

rating: 6.510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00