W!77iN6 Brotherhood of the Backwards Handshake

[Evolving Ear; 2007]

Styles: improv ADD-led minds on too many hot knives
Others: I dunno… Tribes of Neurot, Sun City Girls a bit, maybe. Peeesssssssseeeeye?

Contrary to popular homespun beliefs, you can usually judge a book by its cover. Take W!77iN6's (WILLING or Wi77!N6 on the sleeve's front) Brotherhood of the Backwards Handshake for example: a nubile tennis babe in cum-stained court skirt, her youthful potency disfigured via the magic of BiC pen strokes, is transformed into a hirsute, grinning ghoul as she stands holding a gigantic pink-peaked cock 'n' balls combo. Her serving partner is propped up cooly in the background, his head a mask of fire. Topped off with the album's title in sinister font, the cover looks like the result of someone regurgitating last night's nachos grande and Guinness onto a proof before Fed-Exing it off to the print house. It is grotesque and juvenile and hilarious. It's intriguing as hell.

The sounds contained within this bowel-churning sleeve are just as mangled, but never lifeless and strangely soothing. On Brotherhood of the Backwards Handshake, Fritz Welch (Peeesseye, visual artist, raconteur) commingles with Ian Christe (Dark Noerd, heavy metal wordsmith, bon vivant) to create an unsettling stew of "foregrounds & backgrounds, drums, unnatural ringing, whistles, chants and unprepared guitars," samples and stolen sounds, electrics and acoustics, and free-form fracas. "Unworthy Am Not I?," for instance, has isolated hits of percussion, something that sounds like an elephant trying to balance on a yoga ball and a messed-up Alanis Morrisette song swipe in it. "Spoiled Fruit/Global Market" has some semblance of a tune, if your idea of a tune is a lonely kid trying to learn the blues on his first electric guitar, while his best friend flies a mechanical plane over top of his head and his baby sister tunes a radio further long the street curb. It’s almost as charming as that little slice of Norman Rockwell everyday life I have just described, too. Almost.

Much of WILLING is tedious and difficult to sit through, but I half-think that is the point. I fully expected a few longer drone pieces on Brotherhood, but there is obviously no room for those among the experiments in sound collage, aborted recordings, and awkward periods of silence and cacophony that are as cracked as they are controlling. "A New Nest for Mr. Pest" sounds like my eight-month-old son let loose in the IKEA kitchen department, like a budgie getting strangled, and ends with a smart segment of aggressive tape-stretching and manipulation. "Hungry, Hungry Lips" is a meditative warm-up finger exercise which progresses into the sound of a convulsing guitar. The one constant on Brotherhood of the Backwards Handshake is constant chaos. Impulsive and exploring, escaping the rigidity of conventional music has rarely been this absurd.

I cannot tell a lie: I have no fucking clue why I like Brotherhood of the Backwards Handshake. Maybe there is a whole "fish out of water" thing going on; it goes so far against my usual grain that it riles up nervous excitement the same way a visit to a farm or zoo turns this normally staunch city dweller into a bristling bundle of joy. Maybe it reminds me of hanging out in countless garages and basements with friends acting out such a blatantly incongruous sound that was always immensely more enjoyable than trying to learn "straight" "proper" "songs" ("Hey, let's string together every effect pedal we own and play over top of the Kids in the Hall "Lopez" skit on TV, while we keep a beat by repeatedly pressing the pulse button on a blender full of ice!"). Maybe it's because this recording has been shelved for seven years, and yet it fits seamlessly into the nutty noise niches of today. Maybe it's my solvent addiction. Whatever the reason, this can only be described as "other" or "weird shit" that will only appeal to a small percentage of you and, even then, mostly as a curiosity. I am shocked and more than a little spooked out that it appeals to me.

1. The Divine Light Irradiates All Things Equally
2. Unworthy Am Not I?
3. Slurping Through Holes in My Spacesuit
4. Contacted for Multiple Headbirth
5. Spoiled Fruit/Global Market
6. The Barren Slope
7. A New Nest for Mr. Pest
8. 'fflicted
9. Hungry, Hungry Lips
10. Ham Sandwich Shuffling
11. Montrose Will Be the Next and Last Stop
12. Sicky Sick-Up

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