Pre - Epic Fits Review

More people will hate Epic Fits than will enjoy it. Actually, “enjoy it” isn't entirely accurate either. This is sonic meth. And no one takes meth and has a mixed, blasé reaction to it. I suppose the easiest correlation would be to Melt-Banana, the fine Japanese noise rock outfit that gave us Cell-Scape in 2003 (and several other fine records). Using “fine” is, of course, a wry choice. Simply hearing that Epic Fits is going to be a messy noise-punk record won't prepare you any better than knowing what Melt-Banana is all about. This is not music to make you reflect or offer a sing-along. Once again, it's sonic meth. I can only make the guarantee that no matter how you react, it's going to temporarily change you after an extended hit.

Akika Matsuura is your ringleader for this freakish circus, so introduce yourself and don't be shy. She's going to be the one shrieking at you for the next twenty-five minutes. You may call her Exceedingly Good Keex, for that is how she will credit herself. And if you expect to understand more than eight words she screams your way, you're going to be disappointed—not that much you understand makes a lick of sense anyway.

John Art Webb will help you out, though. He adds the salt and vinegar to Keex's sugar rush. He doesn't so much play riffs on his guitar as he takes a cheese shredder to rusty grates and grinds away like he was auditioning for a bad industrial band. Keeping everything tuned low allows him to get away with the aural terrorism; in fact, it lends everything a respectable “basement-made” authority.

Kevin Hendrix, Matthew Warburton and Richard Bennett are going to be the ones making everything slightly more palatable, so you know you're not listening to chaos simply for chaos' sake. Furnishing the limber but repetitive grooves and hammering that relentless rhythm against your skull is what they're up to. Hendrix and Warburton pull double duty with their steel wool basses, keeping everything thumping hard against the pink belly. And Bennett treats his kit like an aggressively naughty child, refusing to stop pounding until the noise around him shuts the hell up.

This pack of rogues isn't content to pawn sleazy on you. They feel an intense need to dress up sweet and simplistic pop in all the punk gear they can muster up at Salvation Army, then smear it with axle grease and push it into a fire pit. They're only a few degrees either way of being lumped in already outrageous circles with either Deerhoof or Ponytail, but they'd rather trash up the place than ever concern themselves with cliques. It's dance music for spastics, riot-springers for the eternally disaffected and muscle relaxants only for the deaf or criminally insane.

Their output typically clocks in under two minutes (with a few spending it all before a minute's even up). Even their “epic,” “Scenes from a 1963 Los Angeles Love-In,” would have been over a lot sooner if the band hadn't decided to piss all over the flames of the corpses they left behind for another three, skull-piercing minutes. Likewise, “Popping Showers” uses every one of its two hundred thirty seconds to rack your nerves and bleed you dry.

But Pre specialize in short, barely-controlled bursts of machine gun fire. While I wouldn't call them one-trick ponies, these quick, frenetic spark showers flow into each other not by musical segue but because each one picks up where the last left off. If you were to listen to this and try to keep up on a pogo stick, you'd have a heart attack before “Slash in the Snakepit” arrived.

Despite their mangled and mutant appetites for destruction, the songs can be damn catchy. “Ace Cock” has a rusty groove similar to Primus' “My Name Is Mud.” You'll flash back to the 80s wasteland on “And Prolapse.” Ditto to “Drool,” which starts out pretty clean but shreds apart any semblance of sanity courtesy of the guitar squeals and Keex's distorted howl. But this isn't an album for cherry picking favorite songs—you begin at track one and, assuming it doesn't break you along the way, you finish it gasping for air.

So if you prefer your pop without a lot of crash and clatter, sample before buying. But Pre has converted a handful along the way, and look to continue leaving rock music a frazzled, smoking ruin. They even recruited Steve Albini for their sophomore full-length; promising, indeed. Apparently bands as hectic and snaggle-toothed as this one need not always collapse beneath the weight of chaos. No matter how feverish they may sound, there's no cure in the world to make them sound any better than they wanna. For now, let this anarchy reign.

"Epic Fits" is on sale September 18, 2007 from Skin Graft.

Matt Medlock


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