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Album Review

Total – “Hard and Low” – [Turgid Animal]

surferrosa   9/25/2012   A Library, CD

What you have here is Matthew Bower’s (of skullflower) solo project, Originally a cassette release on Broken Flag Records in 1986 and re-released now on Turgid Animal. This is Bower’s first project under the moniker Total. This album is driven by analog sound and largely instrument lead, post-industrial noise. Varied and cacophonous, riddled with broken loops, moldy fuzz and ominous frequencies. Tracks #1 and #6 echo of each other. The first kicking off with a distant anarchy in the UK . Both descend into a prickly wall of drone, populated with feedback and construction zone musings. #2 houses an analog horn drone. Processed and layered, creating a thick mess of pipe moans and low end hums. #3 brings tape manipulation. Warped and broken loops singing of a haunted symphony of backwards satanists, caroling as they pound their heavy fists at your front door. #4 is vocal deterioration. Anguished and pulsating on a synth-drone see-saw. #5 brings the music home. Solo piano improvisation, soaked in melancholy and accompanied by the occasional clicks of prepared strings or a gritty guitar. Rounding things out with #7, spinning out on a lopsided loop, crackling in and out of samplage. Infectious and oscillating under the heat of sound. This album is a gloomy, murmuring collage. It can be harsh at times, but if you search you will find loveliness. Constant flux and sonic bliss. -Surfer Rosa

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