For !!! (pronounced with any three repeated syllables, frequently chk-chk-chk, but my favorite being perhaps yeah-yeah-yeah), their 2000 debut and 2003’s Me and Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard (A True Story) EP have put them firmly on the map. Out Hud’s 2002 debut, S.T.R.E.E.T.D.A.D., left more than a few mouths gaping. The groups share three members as well as a penchant for thoroughly sweaty live shows where dancing shoes do not sit on the sidelines. Before these records, and before their mass move from Sacramento to Brooklyn, !!! and Out Hud teamed up for 1999’s split EP Lab Remix Series Volume 2. For 2004, this previously LP-only release has been reissued on CD, providing a glimpse of the early stages of these group’s post-punk funk.
Out Hud contribute three versions of the same track in which they combine layered funk rhythms, reverberating guitars, and elongated cello. Then they proceed to pile on fuzzy beats, noise shards, and bass grime to eventually strip the track of its melody by the third version. This final version veers toward abstraction rather than funk, favoring monotonous layers and constant repetition, and excluding melody altogether. The EP reveals a primordial version of Out Hud, establishing the elements that would be so well executed on S.T.R.E.E.T.D.A.D: solid rhythms, interlocking melodies, and layered production that surges and recedes within single songs. In the five years since, however, the band has incorporated a wider range of influences, including synthesized effects, house beats, and electro. The three tracks here stick closer to the primitive lineage of ESG, Bush Tetras, and 99 Records.
!!! have always seemed to focus solely on funk and dub, with less of the noise and experimental traits of Out Hud. On this split, !!! kick right in with tight rhythms and cacophonous guitar lines. They drop in horns and a couple of well-timed synthesizer washes to push everything forward. Things slightly unravel in the middle, but simple guitar lines pull them together before too long. As with other recent !!! releases, the vocals detract from the overall sound.
In 1999, this EP laid the groundwork for two talented groups to bring post-punk back into underground rock. By 2004, both have made far superior recordings, especially S.T.R.E.E.T.D.A.D.. This split offers an early snapshot for fans interested in digging a little deeper.