Short description: Xinli Supreme sound something like the Japanese Flying Saucer Attack.
Longer review: Xinli Supreme sound from time to time like Flying Saucer Attack when they were so much more lo-fi than recently. Monospaced drum machine beats borrowed from the Jesus & Mary Chain or just set to full speed ahead and damn the engines; muttered vocals from too much looking to find swirly patterns in the clouds, or screams of drill-bait intensity; every guitar effect raised to 10 and turned on at once, and then mixed up again to at least 11. Frying pans full of chips set to stun instead of fuzz pedals, tingly walls of sound which swell around the general miasma and set off goose pimples as the majhor chords meet the minor in a wave of foggy delerium. Big ringing guitar non-solos where the noise is more interesting than the tune. Feedback+volume=collapse.
-Antron S. Meister-
From the appearance of the cover with its mutilated American flag and bloody smears and the title of this ep you could perhaps guess at the contents. And if your guess has anything to do with raw sonic aggression then you’re dead right.
This is a three-piece that sounds like an army of amplified welders recorded in disused abattoir with all the equipment turned to maximum distortion. It is a more or less relentless barrage from the title track onwards and even though “Front of You” has a driven bass and some recognisable keyboard noises it’s still full tilt and into your bleeding ears. “Sakae” must be a Japanese word for the noise made when angle-grinders gather to fuck in an aircraft hangar. Very metal. Then suddenly these noisy boys lead us into a landscape so isolated and bleak where the breezes are like rippling sheet metal combing over unidentified toxic debris. It is much quieter and is called “I.T.D.O.O.M.” and no, I’ve no idea what it stands for but it is an eerie, icy place.
They end with “Nameless Song” which sounds like a Japanese melody played over and over. slowly on an old piano. It is nothing much like the rest of the CD. I loved the whole thing, especially the sense of unchecked energy and abandon that rips out of the speakers most of the time. If this `tender, strange, spiritual, violent band’ – their words – ever leave their geographically isolated home and visit the UK I’d like to be in the audience when they do this stuff live.
Despite all the obvious comparisons that can be made to the sound of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus & Mary Chain – which are, let’s face it, somewhat valid – the reason Xinlisupreme really make the grade is their combination of instantly hummable melodies buried under more noise and downright grunge (notwithstanding lumberjack shirt imagery that description may encourage) than a whole heap of less oblivious bands could really go so far into as to make the transition from merely raucous to gloriously transcendent. In short, they can be thrilling.
Not because they are copyists – there is something of Slint to the wretchedly wrecked emotions hinted at by the faint and shredded vocals, something more of the Butthole Surfers to the Devil-may-care settings of effects pedals, and the churning regularity of the drum machine beats skull-thudding time like the aforementioned Reid Bros. – but because it works so well. Spasms, shivers and chills are to be expected from the guitar work and electronics; body-jarring endurance tests for the feet and ability to move from the rhythms. Peppered with more abstract sonic diversions and backmasked reverses like the curiously delicate “Amaryllis”, the rapid-fire drum machine gunning clatter of “Untitled” or the Japanese Folk’n’feedback of “Nameless Song”, the twisted Pop heart of Xinlisupreme wells up and over into skyscraping intensities of noise and solid demolition grooves with a cheery Punk two fingered salute to the non-slamdancefloor. Somehow they even manage to break through the stadium arm-waving barrier with “Fatal Sisters Opened Umbrella”, emerging somewhere on a melodic seashore for a sleepytime wallow in swelling chords and drifting vocal blissout until the necessary gear-change into chaos smashes the pleasantries on to yet further levels of gleeful dive-bombed excoriation.
Likewise, the duo of skull-reaming schismatics take the barest of mechanistic rhythms and muttered invocations of experimental Rock and the blazing fury of the hardest of Digital Hardcore and – guess what? Shovel a tonne more feedback and distortion over them until the need for movement becomes superfluous under the weight of screeching, bending sound, then bring up the purest of impure headbanging rampage, demented pianos and ravaged cymbals as found in the devastating “Under A Clown” until the ears bleed. No need for the relatively listenable re–re-refried R&B four-four, 12-bar tunes to actually survive intact – they sound so much better pulverized into submission, and just like the listener, Rock & Roll can feel so much more enlivened for the noisy pounding given out here..
Xyphax – Time Of The Year
Label: Off Beat Format: CD
Aabrasive electronica features prominently on Xyphax’ Time Of The Year which owes a huge debt to both Autechre and the Aphex Twin, and is none the worse for showing its influences, even if this does extend to titles like ‘Treplec’ and ‘Vetrophon’. Minimal chords and squeaky chirrups meet distorted breakbeats, funky machine dubs and short wave radio conversations in a skilful concoction which may not be entirely innovative, but engages competently with enough electronic tropes to deserve attention.