Highlights that I’ll discuss more explicitly in Part II of my feature on the latest LP by Metal Rouge, Soft Erase.
Does Metal Rouge rock out? Contrasted to a good portion of their earlier outings of free music/sound in tandem with socially aware conceptualism, non-idiomatic stellar wail, Soft Erase (Emerald Cocoon) unabashedly rocks at times. They rock, bashing in and debossing their sounds with unforgiving rhythm and pattern, thereby charting powerful contrasts to their previous work.
Soft Erase celebrates MR’s influences and obsessions that, among other things, eviscerate the stillborn idea that this work is simply derivative, a mere ode to the music which hs brought them inspiration. Does it move forward? Who cares. Personally I don’t even know what the fuck that means. But it does move, and in many directions simultaneously. As kinetic, dynamic and inviting as it is alienating and occasionally mechanical, the new LP is a catalyst for rage composed of
tender barbs and enlightening shards of glass.
4 Takeaways From Metal Rouge, Soft Erase LP on Emerald Cocoon
- Soft Erase documents decay and illuminates the immutable spirit to overturn, exacavating the vague bones of punk, free jazz and Neue Deutsche Welle . The LP is tightly wound, punctuated with spells of beatific insouciance, an expression of our times equally fueled by the head and heart.
- While the comparisons to the likes of Dead C and earlier Royal Trux are spot-on, with Soft Erase I also hear a little bit of Sonic Youth-era Bad Moon Rising, but only in service to the greater whole. Again, there are universes of difference between replication and allusion. Each of those touchstones are great to have mentioned in any piece on Soft Erase, but more importantly, it’s the forging of Metal Rouge’s elusive yet identifiable sound that impresses.
- The structure on Soft Erase serves to gird the music in such a way as to emphasize potential collapse, allowing Andrew, Helga and guest altoist Giles Miller to explore risk, loss and considerable reward (hint: on Soft Erase, it’s the latter). Even the perfectionist environment of the studio didn’t smooth over the necessarily harsh sound with the added dimension of patterns in beats and, because of their collective nature, it would have been anathema had it done so. The rhythm offers them the opportunity to see if they can sustain their formidable intensity throughout.
- As above, so below (or so I’ve heard). There’s a pleasing symmetry of mood and structure here as well. Consequently, their (MR) earmarks of experience and group chemistry establish counterpoint, both in the strict and looser meanings of that word. Elan balances fury. The undeniable grace of a melody hinted at balances sympathetic apoplexy. You know, cosmic batshit solar eruptions; imp/explosions. You know, the shit that makes losing your mind to it even better. By extension, listening to Metal Rouge (and thereby) engaging Soft Erase is kind of like diving into the threatening radioactive skeleton of the Saratoga at Biniki Atoll, where the groan of rusted bones are poised to collapse just as you make a new discovery. What once kept the vessel afloat is now an element that can finish the whole thing off and take you down with it. It’s rare that we really talk about risk in terms of rock’s many offshoots these days, but hell, context is everything.
Here’s a sample from Soft Erase, a track called Take It, via Soundlcoud.
And here is one more, a ditty called Dig A Hole. In my interview with Helga Fassonaki earlier this year, she discussed some of her personal influences including various stripes of psych she listened to as she came of age. When you read about her background, it really does open new listener vistas onto both her music as Yek Koo and with Andrew Scott as Metal Rouge. According to Helga, her parents grew up in Northern Iran which used to be Azerbaijan. She was born here in the States. Andrew is from New Zealand, so they incorporate many different non-Western influences into their sound, imbuing it with manifold perspectives and is so consistently impressive that many of their peers can’t keep up with them, though I’m sure their modesty would prevent them from saying anything remotely of the sort. Their music isn’t just a bunch of brainless “improv” or what the kids wrongheadedly call “experimental” these days. Lean in close and you can hear the Turkish influences on Fassonaki’s vocal style.
So stay tuned for a more in-depth, track-by-track look at Metal Rouge – Soft Erase an LP that will inevitably be one of the year’s best.