Religious Knives Remains

[No Fun Productions; 2007]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: deep, dark, droning electro-psych
Others: the cop-outs: Double Leopards, Mouthus; forrals: GHQ, Soil Sing Through Me

My dog is really cute. Really, truly, unbelievably cute. She usually has pretty good taste in music. She likes country and slowcore, mostly. But she fucking hates Religious Knives. She hides under my bed when I play Remains. She runs to the stereo’s power cord and rips it right out the got-damn wall. She’s only displayed this kind of hostility toward clarinets and albums heavily featuring clarinets in the past. But my dog -- Olivia, Liv, O-Town -- she doesn’t like this. She’s never really displayed hostility toward the Knives’ members’ other projects. She’s cool with Double Leopards’ more mellow stuff. She likes that one Mouthus song that’s actually a Fleetwood Mac song, but not so much the one where they play a song for five minutes and then walk away from the loopers for the following 38. The opinion of the dachshund stated, I like Remains a little more than she does, but I guess you can’t expect a puppy to like any album with the weirdo dissected face drawing that’s on the back of this one.

Remains is basically a compilation of the first stages of the band that is Religious Knives. A few limited pressings of noise media are collected here in the hopes of creating one of 2007’s great psych epics. And, for a while, it looks like that hope is gonna be fulfilled. The album opens to some cheap tabla-sounding electronics, as vaguely Eastern synths ride up behind them on motherfucking steeds. The group quickly gets the drone and throat-singing going, along with some legit drums, and then I really feel like I want to be high and laying in a North African desert. Or something. A Middle-Eastern one would work. At least not sitting here eating a cupful of Goldfish.

As is just so heavily implied by the word “drone,” one of the synth lines here is, like, one note held down for, like, 12 minutes or something. But it’s good. I like it. It definitely makes you want to stand in the middle of your bedroom and compose a sinister mind-camera shot and look pissed in your mind, which I did. The synth gets a little white noisy at the end, and then “Bind Them” is over. “Electricity and Air” is the undoubted masterpiece here: the song you buy the album for. Basically, it’s, uh, the same song as “Bind Them,” but the synth lines and beats and singing are better. And instead of ending on white noise, it ends with what sounds like a guitar in a microwave. (Just guessing.) It’s totally sinister and dark and rad. All 14 minutes of it. “Blackbird” is the pretty track. Simple, wordless vocals moan out over fuzzy guitars. It’s static, but sometimes static is an asset.

But then my dog comes out from under the bed. The album loses any teeth it had and can’t even afford dentures. But even if they could, dentures are sort of uncomfortable, or at least awkward, I hear. I have 31 teeth, so I wouldn’t know. Any occult, mysterious airs about the album are totally obliterated by the unfocused last two tracks (even compared to the pretty much shapeless first three) and flat-out bad synth tones. Ever seen Apocalypse Now? Know how the synths are real bad? It’s like that. It’s bad synths. It’s bad news. All bite is lost as the band smooths the texture from psy-fi to sci-fi. But, hey, at least it points directly to a rating: three good songs out of five.

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