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Petronn Sphene
Exit The Species Noel Gardner , May 24th, 2022 08:32

One half of Guttersnipe producing some fucked-up beat-choppage. Noel Gardner is suitably impressed

When Leeds’ Petronn Sphene is doing Petronn Sphene she goes by the name Xapheena Q.Q. Utslekk. This fully wild eight-song album is released (for now) on her own label, Arcane Pariah, in which capacity you can call her Vymethoxy Redspiders. You might have previously encountered her as half of Guttersnipe, a guitar/drums duo who ‘rocked’ on a technicality but transcended ‘rock’ conceptually and stylistically; Uroceras Gigas was the name that time round. Nomenclature is as music, ripe for being pushed to extremes, and there is no intrinsic reason why one need be bound by what hypothetical listeners may understand, or not.

Exit The Species is the second Petronn Sphene release: a fair chunk of the first, from 2019, has been rerecorded (often quite comprehensively) this time round, and is a bit more ‘developed’ but still raw as guts. It represents Xapheena’s raver tendencies, by which I mean evil gabber, breakcore splatter, ripsnorter London warehouse acid and other free party mutations. For an example of ingesting vast quantities of weird music and regurgitating it as something totally singular, this release is as optimal as it could be.

There’s lethal drums somewhere between Unit Moebius or Nasenbluten, real gone mutations of provincial fairground ride happy hardcore (with a melody in there somewhere!), spluttering chainlinked car alarm chaos like what hyperpop sounds like in the dreams before I actually hear it again… ‘Stalk Eye Pond In Which Scissor Party’, containing maybe the most fucked-up beat-choppage on a release very much ridden with that, really does sound and feel like being in a crowd of people who have a lot of fireworks and pyro, probably shouldn’t be allowed either, and being unable to tell if they’re doing so in joy or anger.

The vocals are the most ‘rock’, or at least noise-as-rock, aspect of what is in all other respects a defiantly electronic release. They’re shrill, grating, intemperate and processed, and they add a whole extra dimension to this music, invigorating as it would still be if a wordless affair. I’m catching a ‘mid-00s North American sass-noize overload bands now semi-lost to the ages’ vibe here, AIDS Wolf and Coughs for two, but that could be way off in terms of what Petronn Sphene was channeling. If Exit The Species’s instrumentals are a continuous half-hour amyl blast, the vox are the splashback from the bottle. I think that analogy works. The only line I picked out first time without consulting the full lyrics (they’re on the Bandcamp stream) was “WE ARE ALL JUST CELLS”, so I feel a bit of a fraud talking them up too much, but they’re amazing: justifiably verbose, frequently free-associative litanies of sci-fi, cyberpunk and transfeminism.

Says here the eight numbers on Exit The Species is just over half of what was recorded, with the rest to be released elsewhere, and that it was all done live in the mix – which, well yes, it sounds like it; but there’s so much going on in these frameworks, and at such unearthly haste, it feels like something superhuman holding it together. If it is. It might equally be the sound of collapse. It’s made by a talent way out on her own cloud either way. Salutations Xapheena Q.Q. Utslekk!