It’s hard to get a handle on this word wise; I was really tempted to leave this as a three letter review – just “wow,” with maybe a few exclamation marks for good measure. Indeed I think this impression was cemented in the first two minutes and didn’t seem to waver in the slightest for ExcitoToxicity‘s whole duration. I know I’m incredibly biased towards Stapleton and Co. (I think he’s notched up a 25 year obsession for me already), but the studio dexterity on display here is so good at hijacking your lobes, blancmanging expectations in swerving colour and sleight of hand, you’d be foolish to pass on the experience.Continuing Stapleton’s recent collaborations with fellow din denizen Graham Bowers, this recent offering brings to mind (for me at least) Spiral Insana‘s mouldering ilk, but refracted through insect eyes. It’s like a hall of mirrors, dribbling with recurring motifs, little bites of the cherry scattered through a multi-headed raggedy man, prism-foddered to differing perspectives, toe dipping the focus in textural honeycombs. Those clatter-caked edgings cerium-bouncing with tasty additions of fuck-off gut-tars, burning on a weirdo(ed) diet of Guru Guru funnelled down the injured panoramas of Amon Düül. You could say this is all over the place — not as chaotic as Parade perhaps, although it certainly shares its tendency to fly off the handle at times (my poor speakers) betwixted by a calm calculated lance or jerky puppeteers hands — seriously, you just can’t fathom how this sets my shadowy heart aglow.
The action commences with “Chains and Gates,” like a kite adrift on sinister thermals, full of temple palms and twilight sines as breathy snakes of uncertainly knot up wisps of Spanish guitar. A tantalising spread of classic Wound topiary, tensile charged, filled with a sense of something unsavoury lingering just around the corner. A vibe suddenly pulled into the chromatic chasm of heavy piano misuse, a violent schism overtaken by a SLAM of beat and layers of grandiose guitar heroics. A raucous incentive (the windows are rattling again), bringing back memories of Peat Bog’s meaty “Bone Frequency” underpinned by an anvil-like chime, chased in disembodied wahs and percussive custards, everything convulsively flittering in your inner ear like a bunch of diced earth worms. Squirming in alternate realities, body-snatched in radio surf and alarm clock noodles. That glinting anvil falling foul of badly-oiled gates to wallow in the protozoics of the beginning once more.Another two tracks slip by in melancholic whist and scattering metallics. Strange shuffles of alien percussives tapping momentums in ill-fitting shoes. The warping piano and timpani tumble (found on both Rupture and Parade) is all present and correct, squirted between slices of eyeball, radiophonic slivers — the instantly recognisable Huffin’ Rag Blues woman with her West/East Coast drool; broken toys; and more momentary madness. “Dancing Tigers”‘s damaged boy racer wheelies and chugging frets are great too, dump-trucked into an astral dustbin of trickster tinkering. That tap-dancing nail gun stapling oak, jumping the table gaps, floating away on zero gravities, the muted scrape of pearly gates and asthmatic lungs. Beautiful stuff that oxbows the brain in hypno-badness, a spell broken in anvil-like slashes of armour plate and wah(ed) currency. Seamlessly carrying on, the title track is a riveted circus of garbled joy with a heated argument thrown in for good measure, then ambient reflection marred by thunderous piano inners. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
Hitting the final furlong, “Broken Symmetry” starts with ’30s flappers melded with brutalised drums, leading to a reprise of the first track. Insides turned outside, branching into a dichotomy, a split layering of loose change falling into an enormous collection plate, beneath which a marginalised Brian May is fret-fucking to his hearts content .The metallic flavour of the coinage overtaking it all in a glorious loosening of limbs. Another great collaboration with Graham Bowers and a worthy addition to the NWW canon towering by my stereo’s side (some would say an industrial accident waiting to happen!).