Foot Village Anti-Magic

[Upset the Rhythm; 2009]

Styles: drum ’n’ shout
Others: Rose for Bohdan

Foot Village is an imaginary city in an imaginary world that the band Foot Village made up. The residents of the city Foot Village are the band Foot Village (Citizen Lee, Citizen Miller, Citizen Rowan, Citizen Taylor-Fantastic). One could get the idea that they've done pretty well for themselves; according to the lyric sheet of "National Jamthum," "Foot Village has big thick concrete borders... All of our wifi is free." Even in municipal wireless Arcadia. "Stand up/ Go to war," comes the command in "Death of the Endless." The war-torn village also faces a drug crisis: "We're all on acid and some of us on PCP" ("Jamthum"). Then there's the widespread moral depravity: "We are ugly/ We are wicked/ All we do is fuck" ("Energy Seekers"). More Interzone than Invisible Cities, this Foot Village.

Fascinating as all this may be, I must confess that the album-length narrative is an art form that tends to elude my modest critical faculties. With Foot Village, though, the conceptual foundation seems so intrinsic to their sound as to explain itself. And what a sound. For three albums now, Foot Village have relied solely upon their voices and drums. Lots of voices, lots of drums, and enough raw energy to power a hundred other bands' frilly pedals. While calling their songs "drum symphonies" is perhaps grandiose, considering how crude the whole thing feels, the songs are propelled by an inherent momentum and sudden dramatic shifts. The spastic punk/metal/hardcore vocals pair with the aggro marching band percussion to make a rapturous and totally outrageous sort of post-hardcore noise. Their unearthly clamor would surely be unbearable were it delivered straight-faced, with lyrics based in the real world; the lurid, grotesque intrigues of Anti-Magic's invented kingdom conceit seem a necessary corollary to the sound they have developed.

As it is, Anti-Magic may not endear itself to those who aren't already Chocolate Synthesizer-lovin' scuzz-heads. Listening to Foot Village's extreme music requires a submission to the insane, demented, and totally nerdy trip they are on, which can be exhausting and occasionally uncomfortable. "Can you cast a spell/ Can you cast it from hell?" goes one phlegmy, Magic: The Gathering-inspired couplet from "Reggae Warzone"; I was alone when I first listened to that, and it stiil caused me to blush. Grace Lee's presence is very welcome at moments like this, when Anti-Magic begins to seem like an inside joke between a bunch of Mountain Dew-swilling, D&D-obsessed friends. Her vocals are more expressive than the shouting from the beards in the band, and their power as a live act is best approximated when she's lead screeching.

"Chicken and Cheese 2 w/Friends" ends Anti-Magic with a violent catharsis and these words: "We write love songs in a secret language that no one can resist." It's a pretty astounding line by itself, and then something funny happens: Foot Village's friends from various pockets of the outre musical world pour out of the woodwork to reinterpret this line in their own secret sound language. It's a 10-minute montage, a compelling snapshot of the internet-connected noise underworld. You may or may not like Foot Village, but one thing seems clear: Their attitude is contagious.

1. Energy Hunters
2. Reggae War Zone
3. Take
4. Death of the Endless
5. -…-…- -- -.-…-.-. .-.. . (a.k.a. Morse Code 'No Jam')
6. Grace's Death
7. National Jamthum
8. Crybaby
9. .-.--- … . .- -.-.. (a.k.a. Morse Code 'Roseanne')
10. Anti-Magic
11. Chicken and Cheese 2 w/Friends

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