Finally Twin Stumps have decided to release their ode to balding people, as the cover states. The material inside the album does go farther than this mentioned tragedy and reaches heights of sonic filth. Twin Stumps themselves define their genre as “downer”; and of course the one band I can think of who could be also classified as so are the Swans in their nihilistic heyday (early 80s). The similarities are obvious; both bands could be somehow considered “industrial” and “noise-rock” yet they go beyond those tags. The Stumps are overall a sludgy punkish post-hardcore act, whose production here (engineered by the Pygmy Shrews’ Ben Greenberg) is intentionally lo-fi crappy – but also thankfully clear and not as muddled as it first appears to be: the instruments are identifiable instead of being buried in layers of nauseating noise (it’s evidently not recorded in some bathroom but it’s been manipulated as to sound “muddy” – the bass in the excellent “Missing Persons”, for instance, is fuzzy as fuck). Yet of course the album is permanently noisy. There’s some loud, abrasive tracks, such as the shouty “Business Class”; sonic experiments, notably “Body Plan” (a collage of eerie sounds – which might or might not be a subway train, shots being fired and drumsticks being thrown against a wal); or just quiet, disturbingly reptile and droneish segments of bass/guitar repetition (“Lungs”; “Pigs at the Trough”). But it’s always noisy as hell. Some of the cuts are even catchy (“Drainage City” has an ace bassline; “Caged Emily” has rushing hummable crescendos; “Lust Murder”‘s guitar is absurdly memorable). The slowest motherfucker here is probably “Pope’s Nose”, which should become a protosludge classic. Singer/shouter Alessandro Keegan screams “you’ll never be what your mother wanted” and other happy remarks in an array of hate reminiscent of… the Swans, who else. I really don’t know what he’s yelling most of the time, but I suppose it’s nothing too pretty. Many are the Stumps’ influences. Screeching guitars and hammering bass worthy of Flipper, the pounding rhythm and vicious vocals of Godflesh (no really, Keegan sounds like Broadrick at times), the noise/feedback mayhem of Harry Pussy, the gritty reality of the harsher Brainbombs (I’m thinking “Anne Frank”), the atonal, insisting soundscapes of many No Wave acts; the doomish decaying ambiance of Nootgrush; all these bands conform the core of the Twin Stumps’ aural tradition. I believe they display more creativity and expert composition (not just attitude and noise for noise’s sake) than SQRM, Drunkdriver or other “noisy” bands of the moment. I’m not underestimating them at all; it’s just that the whole of Seedbed inspires such confidence and cohesion (by not being boringly reiterative) it’s hard to imagine punky noise rock being more consistent than this. The album leaves the listener exhausted and messed up.
And that is a GOOD thing.