Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Hank Wood & the Hammerheads - Stay Home LP

"It looked like a city. Ghostly, wavering buildings appeared through a drizzle of midnight rain. Of course, no two minds were alike..." - Terry Pratchett, Thud

Stay Home, Hank Wood and the Hammerheads second album of Mummies-beat New York squalorsquawk, Quintron-by-way-of-Queens, following on from 2012's Go Home, possibly my favourite release from that year. It's more panicky though, Go Home having its fair share of tuff cunt strut in songs like It's Hard On The Street and Don't Walk Away From Me, Stay Home rippling with more uncomfortable grooves, restless itchings, claustrophobic mutterings, skittering percussion like the ricochets of paranoia and angst of the inside of your skull. Go Home had a more conflicted attitude towards its city environs, stumbling between pissed-off rantings and face-up fuck-offs, Stay Home has burnt itself out, wrapped itself too deep in the toxic understandings and fetid cracklings of the city and it wants out.

It's an album living in a maze of traps, internal (Neurosis's agonised "THE DOCTOR SAID TO GO FUCK MYSELF/BUT I'M IN MAD PAIN/I KNOW IT'S ALL IN MY HEAD/BUT I CAN'T CHANGE", The Ghost's frantic "IT'S A PATTERN/IT'S A PATTERN/IT'S A PATTERN/THE MIND/THE MIND IS THE PROBLEM") and external (In Bookings' jailhouse lugging "THROWN INTO A CAGE UNDERGROUND/TRAPPED BEHIND BARS WITH A MILK DRINKING CLOWN/TAKE MY WILL/TAKE MY PRINTS/TAKE MY LACE", Shook & Hungry's propulsive roll of "I'M LIVING IN A DEEP DARK PIT/CONCRETE WALLS TALL AND THICK") and then times where these two merge in a psychogeographic wounding, ripping up city and head, pavement and frontal lobe shocked and splitting simultaneously as on Nervous City's repetitive rankle "BROKEN BRICKS/ANXIOUS CITY", These Chains's blunt instrument jabbing "THESE CHAINS THEY GAVE ME/THESE CHAINS THEY GAVE ME/I CAN'T LIVE ANYMORE IN A CITY THAT DEPRAVES ME/CYCLE CYCLE PRISON CYCLE".

But whenever there are traps and prisons, dreams of escape snarl up, like This World Is Beat and In Space imagine a way out from these insomniac wanderings beset by chaotic urban chatter. Searching for silence and isolation, an escape from this noir of perpetual rain, this pulpy shitsmear of an Ed McBain potboiler, interminable degradation in familiar patterns, they imagine the free-floating void, "DRIFTING OUT INTO NOTHINGNESS/PEACE AND QUIET/WHAT IS THIS" but these remain a fantastical vision, a utopian oblivion tickling inside the dank confines of a old city mentality, built-up tight and built-down deep, cramped, no sprawl.

Rollicking along, Stay Home bounces with gunk and gusto, keys jabbering, guitars gurgling and squeaking like cyclical thought patterns spinning off the axle, infectious skeleton-rattle rhythms like snatches of blackened calypsos, breathy oohs and aahs and huhs like James Brown interjections or stress-induced ticks, like little snorts of pressure released ("THE PRESSURE/THE PRESSURE IS BUILDING/AND I'M SUFFOCATING" on Shook & Hungry). Shaking with a cokesick shiver throughout, ratty gnawings at the worn burlap of your brainfilm, the fraying diaphanous membrane of your psychological wellbeing the relapses of What's So Bad About a Bad Idea, the ugly realisations of I Thought I was a Good Man, tuning into the repetitive rhythms of anxiety and anguish, depressive diggings. A city's bricked-up sickness let loose, the scratching inside the walls amplified and shaken out.

"He turned down a winding lane where pain had peeled from the walls of crumbling houses, where rubbish, dirt, and fruit peelings littered the ground and cats wound between people's feet, slipping into foul-smelling gateways. A light drizzle started again: blank-faced firewalls rose damp and grey into the empty air." - Ferenc Karinthy, Metropole

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