Saturday, May 24, 2014

Record review: feedbacula - 'NOW'

A part of Chicago's thriving experimental music scene since 2008, feedbacula are a prolific husband and wife duo that blends together elements of dance, electronic, noise and found audio to create a jarringly original sound. A steady stream of fascinating, self-released digital LPs has paved the way for NOW, the band's first vinyl offering.

As much a series of beat-leaden sound collages as a collection of "songs," the tracks on NOW are remarkable for their ability to linger in the brain long after the needle has been lifted despite the absence of traditional melody. The hooks on the album are, instead of a catchy chord progression, a recurring and expanding series of sounds that ranges from distorted guitar and plunking percussion to shrill buzzes, wailing horns and slurping sirens. Opening track "First Name Carlos" kicks off with audio that sounds lifted from a CPD band, only to melt into a groove of eerie synth manipulations and a cooly nonchalant beat. Decisively bouncier (and by extension, more fun), is "Brain Dead Devil," a track that makes use of club-friendly drumming, Pac Man-esque warbling and the shriek-snap of bottle rockets. 

"Passion/Void" moves in the same vein, introducing a police broadcast about shots fired/possible fireworks over a pulsing beat and 8-bit frenzy that'd sound at home somewhere on the Party Monster soundtrack. It's moments like this, of which there are several on NOW, that make the record an undeniable product of the city in which it was conceived. feedbacula sound like a group that would really like to boogie and explore, but who are inescapably affected by the violence blossoming around them. 

NOW ends with "We Are Here," a brief track that combines cassette sample manipulation, found audio and a trembling, ghostly melody that calls back to old sci-fi and horror radio plays. As the tune crackles to a finish, the silence is broken by a man's voice, loud and clear, demanding that his audience raise their hand if they "did not enjoy that experience." 

For the record, my hand stayed down.


feedbacula's 'NOW' was released in April, 2014 and is available online and at live shows. The album was recorded by C. Ezra Lange and was mastered by CAVE's Cooper Crain, who seems to have his hand in a lot of good pies these days. A limited edition of 100, 'NOW' comes with a rad hand-printed sticker and canvas patch. While the record isn't available to stream, you can get a taste of what it's like by checking out feedbacula's recent performance on WZRD below (it's a free download!):

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