Hototogisu Some Blood Will Stick

[Important; 2006]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: drone, noise rock
Others: Skullflower, Double Leopards, GHQ, Burning Star Core, The Dead C.

Through his work in Total, Skullflower, and Sunroof!, and his collaborations with other outsiders such as Richard Youngs, Matthew Bower has crafted an extensive catalogue of shimmering electric ragas and charcoal-colored heavy metal death marches, preserving UK post-punk’s DIY ethos and ravenous drive to experiment and channeling these impulses into an idiosyncratic, immediately recognizable, personal aesthetic. Such a distinct artistic imprint can become a liability, though, when you release as much music as Bower. Since 2003, Hototogisu — his ongoing collaboration with Double Leopards and GHQ contributor Marcia Bassett — has issued a sizeable and uniformly engaging stack of CDs and CD-Rs, but I imagine few listeners have bothered to hear all of these albums, as they’re essentially variations on the same theme.

If you haven’t had your fill of Hototogisu yet — or hell, even if you have — then Some Blood Will Stick should be the first place you turn to get acquainted with the project. The album offers a mix of older, rarer cuts and new, previously unreleased material, and the reissued songs sound better than ever thanks to some judicious editing and remastering. The trims and shaves don’t prevent the tracks from testing our attention spans and capacity for heavy drones, however. Each piece is a lengthy exploration of the tensions that arise when guitars and power electronics grind against one another, with the two musicians layering tracks of venomous black metal buzz, Tony Conrad-esque harsh minimalist sawing, and pulsing shoegaze feedback, letting the tones complement and clash with one another. As abrasive and forgiving of accidents as this music is, there are hints that it’s more than just a mad dash over an empty horizon for Bowers and Bassett: in the first track, ecstatic human wails emerge from a dead sea of asphyxiating treble, providing a sense of catharsis and even triumph heard in the finest sessions from hollering jazz saxophonists like Frank Wright and Albert Ayler.

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