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Shit & Shine
Jream Baby Jream Matt Evans , May 22nd, 2012 04:56

If you’ve ever caught Shit and Shine live, chances are they pummelled your pleasure centres into screaming submission or despatched you to the bar in a miasmic haze of disgust. In the flesh, this band has taken many forms, but it has generally involved far too many drummers and not nearly enough riffs. They take a single momentous idea and give it a damn good thrashing, driving a single colossal phrase into the ground like a coyote beneath an oversized anvil. It’s a stunningly effective strategy – no dynamics, no build-ups, no progression, just economic, relentless, insanely dogged brutality. You could base a planet-unifying religion on such transcendent sensory experience and unbearable clarity of vision. But you probably shouldn’t.

  All of which is self-consciously wrong-footing introductory irrelevance, because fifth album Jream Baby Jream is far from the anticipated metallic monoriff juggernaut – or riffernaut, if you will. The 30-second robo-voco-intro is essentially a bit of throwaway guff, but its awkward, clunky electronics do hint at what is to follow. These speak-and-spell vocals recur on first track proper, ‘Dinner With My Girlfriend’, albeit crushed to a paste beneath a grinding mass of outrageously filthy bass and nigh-intolerably brutal distortion. This is pretty much what you might imagine dubstep sounded like if you devoured the press coverage but never heard any of the actual tunes (and if your skull was full of iron filings). Brilliantly single-minded, it invokes S&S’s love of repetition, but being an ant’s cock shy of ten minutes long, it offers only a glimpse of the thrilling annoyance of which they are capable.   ‘Mermuda Triangle’ follows, and offers further hints of immersion in electronic music. In here somewhere is a perfectly pleasant little handmade post-trip-hop instrumental, but thankfully such apple-white bourgeois guff is obscured by ostentatious crackle and bleeding-edge distortion that makes the speakers sound like they’re full of those pyrokinetic killer bees that the Daily Mail are probably always banging on about. The title track dials down the aggro to barely perceptible, its lush vibes redolent of the kind of hazy south-sea avant-tropicalia that Black Dice used to peddle circa Beaches & Canyons, the only subversive tang being the distant hectoring of a good-natured drunk.

The theoretical dubstep approach comes storming back with the brief ‘Woodpecker’, its offering of standard-issue wubs demolished by stoner-rock drum fills and digital razor-wire. The closing ‘Youth Led Worship’ serves to reinforce the overall nebulous theme (other musics, degraded), with evocative but unidentifiable dirge, woozily obfuscated vocal samples, and a faux groove skip – the sound of several gramophones playing in not-quite unison at the bottom of a stagnant pond.  

All very grimy and diverting, but the highlight is, surely, undeniably, ‘Rodeo Girls’. An insistent pulse smothered in faux-antique analogue recording jelly, this is essentially the most irresistible rhythms of Can’s Delay 1968 (their finest hour; truth; all hail) spliced with the super-spiky riff from Dr Feelgood’s ‘Roxette’, gussied up with glorious, crunchy psychedelic wiffle and stretched out for (a mere) ten minutes.

You might disdain its atavism – after all, it’s considerably more retro than most of its electronica-dabbling neighbours – but it is by far the most instantly appealing and mesmerising offering here. Had Shit and Shine applied their trademark fondness for absurdly excessive repetition to this one track and contemptuously called it an album, I’d be delirious with joy.