Metal Rouge
Soft Erase [12-inch; Emerald Cocoon]

Metal Rouge says that they are “Punk, in the spiritual sense of the term,” and I like that insofar as it makes me want to describe the band’s sound as this: Spiritual punk. It’s something I’m still trying to figure out in my head, but I think it describes the way the group has a grimy, prickly, frustrated bent to it while at the same time having the beautiful psychedelic lucidity of Spacemen 3. You’ve got Helga Fassonaki, the noise-crooner otherwise known as Yek Koo, and you’ve got Andrew Scott, who copilots the operations at New Zealand-gone-LA weirdo label Emerald Cocoon along with her. And quite the pairing they make together here on this new LP, which mines the depths of despair to launch the band like a rocket ship into a scorching squall of guitar feedback and distortion. I mean… good GOD, it’s a hurricane in the grooves of this record. Where minimalism has the muscle to be maximalism is where Metal Rouge finds its sweet spot, setting up soft, paper templates of song with looped melodic lines and thrumming beats for guitar amps to tear apart piece by piece. Meanwhile, Fassonaki’s multi-prismatic voice floats on top in its spooky way, chanting incessant lyrics and swarming the mix like a militia of ghosts. The whole thing is at once hazy, disorienting, and opaque, while at the same making room for moments of sheer gorgeousness that are presented with breath-of-fresh-air clarity. That the improvisational method and single-take approach of the band can produce works of such obvious emotional weight is the real selling point here, making way for Soft Erase to be in the running for best noise-related release of the year.


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