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Hair Police - Obedience Cuts

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Artist: Hair Police

Album: Obedience Cuts

Label: Freedom From

Review date: Aug. 18, 2004

From relatively humble beginnings in Lexington, Kentucky, Hair Police have grown and matured to become a rather lauded outfit at the forefront of America’s new infatuation with noise. History of Ghost Dad, a self-released and somewhat flawed debut, was only a glimmer of what was to come, namely the utterly ravaged rock music of Blow Out Your Blood, and a myriad of smaller run releases which seemed to get raves wherever they were heard. Where Hair Police truly turned the corner, however, was with the release of the “Mortuary Servants” 7”, which documented an unsettling, ominous side of the band. This new direction wasn’t a wholly undiscovered one for Hair Police, but it had rarely been so up front and undiluted in their music. Obedience Cuts, the group’s most recent “major” release, proves to be a logical extension of their earlier work, combining the complete annihilation rock of their earlier days with this darker, more overcast tone.

Like an old, deserted house, Obedience Cuts is made of rotted wood, rusty metal, and various other sundry bits of stained, corroded, or otherwise decrepit material. “Let’s See Who’s Here and Who’s Not” begins the disc in spastic, punishing territory that, despite its sharp edges and twists and turns, could seem rather comfy for Hair Police, and not much of a departure from their past oeuvre. But at the commencement of the disc's title track, Obedience Cuts travels down a darker path. Instead of concentrating on sheer brutality and endurance, Hair Police have begun to focus on more minute moments within the music, and are quite willing to let the music breathe and live on its own, bubbling and crackling in ways that might be covered beneath the maelstrom of noise on previous releases. Tracks like "Forged By Wreck" and "Boneless" depart completely from any remnants of rock language, and while perhaps Trevor Tremaine, Mike Connelly, and Robert Beatty might still be brandishing their normal weapons (drums, guitar, and electronics, respectively), the music is mutilated, modulated, and masticated to a degree that leaves any individual contributions unidentifiable amid the larger, grimy stew. Atmospherics have a much larger role in Hair Police's music that ever before; in fact, much of Obedience Cuts appears to have been constructed (or deconstructed) with little but atmosphere in mind. "The Empty Socket" is a duet of ringing chimes and bubbling water, with occasional interjections from the breath behind the bubbles. It's an enthralling piece, music one can almost see or smell, segueing into "Open Body," a plodding dirge that quickly becomes a galloping charge, a locomotive of pounding drums, feedback and noise. The shift between the two is characteristic of a larger tendency to leave no time between tracks for breath, much less introspection, making Obedience Cuts more of a single, multi-segmented piece than an album of nine singular tracks.

While the explosiveness of older Hair Police tracks like "Call the Ghost" or "Dan Ape" certainly exhibit a high degree of ferocity, the fury that lies beneath the music of Obedience Cuts is of an equally intense, though more calculated nature, if not always with respect to the composition, then at least within the ambience of the tracks. The utterly determined (and undeniably grim) focus that lies behind the music is what makes this Hair Police's best album yet. Hair Police shocked life back into rock's body before; now they've watched it slowly suffocate, and left it to rot. But, as it's said, in death, there is life, and Obedience Cuts has both in spades.

By Adam Strohm

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