Monday, December 13, 2010
Royal Trux, TWIN INFINITIVES
Drag City, 1990; available
15 tracks (but see the review for details), 68:41
Emerging out of the notorious Pussy Galore, Royal Trux was essentially Jennifer Herrema and Neil Hagerty. At this point, their addictions (mostly to heroin, but I'm fairly sure pot and psychedelics were involved as well) had gotten the best of them. Not that I'm complaining; the sort of music contained on TWIN INFINITIVES probably couldn't have been made otherwise. Where their first album sounded like zoned-out junkies trying to rock, TWIN INFINITIVES is an absolute monster of noise rock. Tape loops, shards of primitive synth, overdriven drum machines, and scratchy guitars form the basis of most of these tracks. The results are far closer to a mix of early industrial and dub than any sort of indie rock. Opening number "Solid Gold Tooth" is two minutes of Flash Gordon-esque ray gun sounds accompanying what could be another synth or a severely distorted guitar and the atonal howls of Hagerty and Herrema. "Jet Pet" is all squelchy machine beats, echoed noise guitar, and Herrema's anguished indecipherable drawl. The absolutely disturbing "Osiris" has an almost incongruously pretty flute buried behind more of Herrema's glossolalia* and more bizarrely processed sounds. The epic quarter-hour "(Edge Of The) Ape Oven"** starts almost normal, and never gets quite as druggy as the rest of the album, but it's still VERY far from radio fare. Closer "New York Avenue Bridge" features pretty atonal piano and a relatively restrained Herrema vocal, resulting in what might be the album's calmest moment (despite some fairly nasty lyrics). Other tracks have titles like "Yin Jim Versus The Vomit Creature", "Lick My Boots", and "Ratcreeps". If you can imagine what the songs DESCRIBED sound like, you have a good idea what you're in for with the rest of the album. Curiously, since this was originally a double LP, the CD is divided into four tracks. Thus, songs one through five are track one, six through eight are track two, "(Edge Of The) Ape Oven" occupies track three, and ten to fifteen take up track four. This is actually for the best; once you start this album, you can't skip tracks if you want the full effect. I consider this an unintentional masterpiece, but you definitely want to sample it before investing. Nothing else (bar HAND OF GLORY) truly compares to it. After TWIN INFINITIVES, Royal Trux would become steadily more accessible, ending their career as a fairly straightforward hard rock band. Out of the three experimental albums, TWIN INFINITIVES should be the starting point; the debut is much more structured, and HAND OF GLORY is another kind of monster altogether.
*As a side-note, I'm 100% convinced Courtney Love copped her vocal style from Jennifer Herrema. At times they're nearly indistinguishable.
**The now-out-of-print HAND OF GLORY was a delayed reissue of what was supposed to be Royal Trux's second album. The first track, "Domo Des Burros (Two Sticks)" has the same beat as the first half of "(Edge Of The) Ape Oven"; the multi-part "The Boxing Story" is somewhat close to Merzbow meets musique concrete. Believe it or not, TWIN INFINITIVES truly IS more accessible, but HAND OF GLORY is recommended to braver listeners.