The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Album Of The Week

American Cyclo: 2222 And Airport By Shit & Shine
Jon Buckland , April 20th, 2023 08:24

When he's not careening down a mountainside on two wheels, Craig Clouse releases a relentless sream of bangers – this one's a particularly meaty one, finds Jon Buckland

Shit and Shine is, as Meghan Trainor would have it, all about that bass. He wields it as a weapon. It’s a constant force that drives his music onward, never daring to slow to a dawdle. Ceaseless movement seems to be essential to what Shit and Shine does. You can witness this play out in the life of main man, Craig Clouse. He’s a keen mountain biker, hitting the trails three or four times a week and, musically, he’s prolific to the point of intimidation. By my maths this is the tenth release that he’s put out in the past twelve months. Based on this tireless output, he must either be running on some kind of renewable energy or have found the secret to perpetual motion. The only other explanation is that he has a series of clones chained up in a basement churning out off kilter banger after off-kilter banger whilst he hurtles downhill on his pedalled steed.

Inevitably, this impetus comes across in the music itself. ‘DR + R’ propels along like a toon town car chase. ‘4 K4T' is a churning sludge party akin to two monster trucks daggering in a swamp. ‘Buzzard Back Tree’ is a welt of industrial whomping and clomping with the dustbin lid-clad feet of whacked out Stomp-ers chopping through. The skittering bass lines on ‘Girl’ doppler in and out like a tube train that “does not stop at this station”. And, even at its slowest, the lumbering doom trudge of ‘Ten Four Cheese Whopper’ crawls along at the rate of a merciless steamroller ploughing into a Burger King drive-thru during an oddly furious interaction with a grandparent.

Which brings us to the samples that Clouse adorns his tracks with. He’s a YouTube plunderer, scouring the internet for the strange, the grumpy, and the argumentative. Bitcrush-sifted snippets of Luke Una dealing with “existential fucking darkness” emerge during the jaw-clenching, mutant house – all grizzled bass and funky, mangled leads – of ‘Swiss’ whilst the spangled brash electro on ‘Your Dad’s A Loser’ perfectly compliments the sample of a coach giving particularly misguided life advice. These weird narrative vignettes that populate 2222 and Airport seem to have crawled from the very ditches of Harmony Korine’s Xenia, Ohio, splatting our expectations with fists of filth.

His music is so suited to the muck, to squalor-drooled fields, that, at times, we’re tricked by these wonked out cadences and wooze-oozing electronics into moments of halcyon glory. This is best displayed on the seven minute epic second single ‘Infinite Shite’. A familiar growl thunders on amid yawning sweeps of sound that stretch out spaciously. The driving bass line here recalling the snap of Liquid Liquid’s ‘Cavern’ (later popularised in Grandmaster Flash’s ‘White Lines’). It’s thoroughly deserving of huge sound system play, sounding massive even as it drifts off into an astral realm, peppered with alien signals astride the chugging rhythms.

To fresh-faced Shiners, this might sound scuzzy, rough and ready but, if you’ve already acclimatised to Clouse’s maximal, clipping-as-a-way-of-life approach, 2222 and Airport will appear relatively buffed, chamois-ed and gleaming. Previous works have run the gamut from grindcore treachery to kosmische techno equipped with gently fuzzed edges like the soft eyes of a hung over lush. Clouse’s releases from the past few years can usually be split between one of these states: those of a more metal bent, and those drifting towards the dance/electronic spectrum, whilst never settling comfortably in either the mosh pit or on the dance floor. This one definitely leans towards the latter, dripping layers of funk, techno, acid house, big beat, electro, and all manner of intentions, references, and happy accidents into the overflowing cauldron. Of course, whilst those are pseudo-helpful touch points, it also sounds like none of the above. It sounds like Shit and Shine. Which is perhaps best summed up as the chunkiest and most hell-wrought bass playing from Lightning Bolt’s Brian Gibson shucked over a steroid-plunged Prefuse 73 set. Or, in shorter hand, the Bacteria Bitch remix of Nurse With Wound’s ‘Cruisin For A Bruisin’’.

Although this latest effort doesn’t quite emulate the smooth funk of ‘Who’s Your Waitress’, there’s a definite sanding of spikes, production-wise resulting in the dance floor beckoning ‘BBC Beach’. A track which is reminiscent of Basement Jaxx after four straight nights of pill-gobbling insomnia. It’s a disobedient, clanging beast full of permo-pumping kicks and galloping percussion. Joyously unsettling and, though it contains all of the requisite elements – ecstatic synth leads, hefty motoring bass, and a rumpus-rousing set of booming drums – it’s gloriously askew. Like that one person in the club who can’t quite catch the rhythm, it veers off on its own path, rarely letting the audience settle, never resting on its laurels. Always in motion. Like a shark, the economy or some other entity fond of forward momentum, Shit and Shine lurches ever ahead, ploughing his own furrow, leaving all pretenders pecking at his increasingly sparkly dust.