Dan’l Boone Dan’l Boone

[Drag City; 2014]

Styles: trip mental
Others: Royal Trux, Wolf Eyes, Drainolith, Formant, Caroliner

Chaos is relative. Some listening to the self-titled debut by noise supergroup Dan’l Boone will only hear disorder, but it’s certainly not unintelligible. So much is happening at any given moment on Dan’l Boone that it simply doesn’t parse in any conventional way. Each layer has a discrete logic, its own timespace, which on occasion intersect, but mostly just overlap. The territory they trod, then, is the disorder of noise itself, blazing shambles of passable trails through the brush, sometimes meeting one another as they go.

Dan’l Boone consists of four of noise’s favored sons: Alexander Moskos, formerly of AIDS Wolf and currently crooning damaged blues as Drainolith; Nate Young, of trip-metal pioneers Wolf Eyes and solo venture Regression; Neil Hagerty, famed Royal Trux guitar destroyer and founder of The Howling Hex; and Charles Ballas, who joins Hagerty in The Howling Hex. It’s quite a pedigree. But no obvious link unites the styles of the members’ projects, except perhaps for their common purpose of irreverent, acidic deconstruction. And here, the coherence isn’t immediately obvious, because at first listen, every sound fades into a morass of thrashing layers, taking on the illusory appearance of an opaque sonic wall. It’s only after exploring its recesses that the design of Dan’l Boone becomes apparent as a stratum of voices, straining against each other to be heard.

That’s not to say that Dan’l Boone isn’t a mess. It’s just that the messiness is conscious, inherent in the construction. If that sounds like a cop out, pick a sound and listen for it; you’ll find that typically each track is formed of basic units. But unlike an intricate puzzle that begs a solution, Dan’l Boone doesn’t feel like unorganized fragments begging for rearrangement. The ingredients are meant to be heterogenous, like a kind of noise lasagna. Sometimes you get a bite that’s all pasta, sometimes you get the whole cross section. It’s all in your approach to consumption and how willing you are to even eat it.

Metaphors are one of the few methods available for trying to make sense here. Who knows what the fuck the lyrics are about, except for, apparently, Pasadena and New Year’s Eve gunshots. In the production process, Dan’l Boone have shredded some of these sounds beyond repair, lending an air of futility to any sort of effort to effectively read this. The best we get is a consistent bass groove across the whole breadth of “Mindface,” but its repetition merely guides us through the rest of the madness, just as the knowledge of the previous projects of each member only gives us a dark glass through which to see one part of the whole. But there’s no real point to struggling: pick a trail and follow it, and the rest becomes a forest of scenery, punctuating your auditory periphery with strange, chaotic imagery.

It takes time, but Dan’l Boone rewards working on it, not with meaning or conspicuous structure, but with buried treasure. There are many hidden spaces on the record that appear suddenly after the first few listens, seemingly out of nowhere. The songs themselves even seem to transform, their hidden spaces morphing in prominence in your listening space. That certainly doesn’t make it any easier to listen to Dan’l Boone, because even despite the lack of heavy abrasiveness, its sounds aren’t exactly pleasant, and the dissolution of any rhythmic basis to the tracks fucks with any instincts you might have to follow the beat. Still, Dan’l Boone have created something so admirably batshit that it’ll have you questioning if it’s actually totally sane. But then again, if the chaos starts making sense, maybe you should get your head checked anyway, just to be safe.

Links: Dan'l Boone - Drag City

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