Slasher Risk スラシア リスク

[Obsolete Units; 2009]

Styles: first band practice ever
Others: incalculable first-time bands around the world

An album like スラシア リスク seems to intentionally resist being judged or consumed as a totality, since each track embraces a different style, from basement rock to slow psych-burn to noise to long-form slop-jam to field recording. But, even if we ignore the fact that the album is presented as a totality and accept each track as an individuated entity, this still doesn’t help the songs to be any less lifeless or dull. The five different styles on each track don’t function to show the band’s appreciation or aptitude for diverse sounds, as each is as superficial as the next. Rather, it’s as if the five tracks are five attempts at repulsion. After spinning the album once, there’s nothing to make the listener want to return to it. There’s not even masochistic appeal. The songs are ephemeral, but not in a charming way. Ultimately, スラシア リスク sounds like what many of us experienced the first time we had band practice. The only difference is that Slasher Risk — Sara Cavic and Andy Borsz — recorded and released it.

“Brooklyn” sounds like a substandard basement rock party. Some wah-action and finger-tapping solos get thrown over a heavy riff and drum attack. Here, Slasher Risk seem to be performing ironic rock music, namely mocking the most exaggerated and cliché rock-moves while simultaneously embracing them. It reminds me of a bar I went to a few times in Richmond, VA, where every night people would sing along with the audio and video for Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” While it was fun to sing and poke fun at the band’s silliness, the impression I left with was that my life was more vacuous than the music. In other words, embracing or being conscious of the meaninglessness of something doesn’t make you or that thing any more meaningful.

“Eight Belles” journeys into finger-picked acoustic drone phrases accompanied by sleigh bells. The most appealing aspect of the song is the random tapping, as the body of an acoustic guitar is used for percussive purposes. There’s nothing to hold the listener’s attention, though, not even the spine-biting, piercing screech of bow-scrapes when it is nastily applied to a guitar. “Pall Mall” plunges into six minutes of monotonous feedback noise, coming across as more obligatory than defiant or sophisticated. As if the listener hasn’t been pointlessly punished enough, “Kyoto,” which opens up with Fujiwara Hidenori, a figurehead from the 70s Japanese punk scene, is an almost 30-minute-long jam that goes nowhere. The out-of-tune guitar phrase is accompanied by drunken lead guitar masturbation, finally leading to 9 minutes of unrewarding outro-noise-screech.

The final track of the album features a few minutes of women speaking Japanese. This conclusion makes no sense, but this is arguably the (ironic) narrative the album constructs. Dislocating the listener and producing a disjointed or intentionally naïve record can result in a radical aesthetic and/or political statement, but Slasher Risk choose to cuddle the most dangerous nihilism. This form of sonic deconstruction is, at best, critique for critique’s sake, and has no productive, reconstructive power. Slasher Risk’s output ends up mimicking and promoting some sort of violent, destructive, and nihilistic masculinity, thus leaving what deserves to be destroyed unchallenged and fully assembled.

[Full disclosure: Obsolete Units is run by Paul Haney, a TMT contributor.]

1. Brooklyn
2. Eight Belles
3. Pall Mall
4. Kyoto
5. のぞみ ひかり

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