The first time I saw Cellular Chaos (Admiral Grey – voice, Weasel Walter – guitar, Kelly Moran – bass, Marc D. Edwards – drums) was at the dearly departed Brooklyn venue Zebulon. At that time Ceci Moss was the bassist, with the group bringing together low-end sludge, Walter’s Bob Quine-inspired slick guitar howl, Grey’s martial chants, and Edwards’ taut, walloping metronome. In this they were incredibly disjointed and highly effective. This was certainly in part because the guitarist was careening into the tables of the seated audience, sending glass candles and wax everywhere. In the year since that gig, with Moran in bass chair and occupying a Tim Wright-like role, Cellular Chaos have tightened up their music considerably while retaining near-reckless abandon. With a ghoulish glamminess and an unsettlingly vague sexuality, Grey is a powerful and confusing frontwoman, though the band certainly has its own valuable instrumental orbit — equal parts Lake of Dracula and Jack Ruby.
All of this can be quite difficult to contain on record, but the sound of “Adviser” (from their eponymous debut LP on ugEXPLODE) is more akin to a bottle exploding — tinny and played at a breakneck tempo (compared to live settings), with speed and brazenness that slip past Teenage Jesus and Black Flag into electrifying singularity. Grey’s vocal delivery pierces and shouts, yet is imbued with an aridness that slides around the ensemble’s jagged clamor. It’s interesting to hear Edwards in this context too – he’s a free player who has worked with Cecil Taylor and David S. Ware as well as leading his own units. He has described working in Cellular Chaos as pure athletics, requiring an entirely different set of responses. A band that is frighteningly dry on disc and a wet, unruly experience live, Cellular Chaos are a strange and powerful brew.
Streaming below is the premiere of “Adviser” on their eponymous debut LP Cellular Chaos out now via ugEXPLODE, and experience them on a still-materializing tour starting November 1 in a town near you.
[Photo: Justina Villanueva]