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Kites / Prurient - The Hidden Family / +White+

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Artist: Kites / Prurient

Album: The Hidden Family / +White+

Label: Load

Review date: Mar. 28, 2005

Heard through the ears of Ben McOsker (Load's janitor), Providence, Rhode Island seems like one giant, ill-lit loft of circuit-jacking feedback-addicts cloaked in mangled animal costumes. Paper Rad, Fort Thunder, Load – the entire overlapping community of art-disaster day-glo skronk-thrash is so dense, endless, and (relatively) successful, it's easy to feel like all of Providence is overrun by underground comic-drawing, harsh-noise obsessives. People like Christopher Forbes and Dominick Fernow (a.k.a. Kites and Prurient), who perfectly embody the ideal virtues of this imagined Load Utopia's model citizenry: DIY-aesthetic self-sufficiency, esoteric motives, and hatefully piercing volumes. The Hidden Family/+White+ is the CD version of a previously vinyl-only split between these two violence-is-beauty pedal-screamers, and it's yet another burning blast of bad-acid, post-RISD rhetoric.

At first, Kites' side seems embarked on a routine flight, with Forbes' brutal-but-predictable execution-style collage-attack as erratic, jumpy, and hotwired-for-hell as ever. The opening title track in particular starts out a classic Kites killer, 10 mean minutes of rupturing frequencies, charged silences and warring oscillators. Then, totally inexplicably, the din breaks into an intensely unlikely – and strangely moving – organ farewell pop melody, complete with intelligible lyrics: "we can be the hidden family / disregarded, lost inside a tree." It's a shocking, and powerful, first. And maybe a last, as "Screw Style" and "All the Jesus Shit" immediately launch the listener back into a standard Kites shitstorm of rusted gates and trainwreck treble contortions. Forbes finishes up his side of the affair with a pair of fairly odd numbers, however. "Tears of the Youth" uses two throbbing notes and a female voice-over to dictate a dreary song-poem, while "Footsteps on the Path, Animals in the Trees" is a hushed fog of scampering pitter-patters and distant sparkling noise. These expressionistic excursions are welcome reprieves from Kites' sometimes tunnel-visioned sense of his own noise-art, and help set The Hidden Family above and apart from the thousands of similarly-deafening sonic-scuzz cassettes floating through the circuit-bent underground.

Prurient, for better or worse, takes a more black and white approach, offering up one pulsing, low-end, magnetic drone piece ("I Lay Down on the Ground in the Woods and Fell Asleep") and one apocalypse-now, Whitehouse-pitched temper tantrum ("Spanish Moss"). The latter rattles like a contact-mic’ed fluorescent light, humming and awful, while cymbals crash, synthesizers throb evilly, and Fernow growls and howls indiscernible atrocities (according to the booklet, the lyrics come from a presumably unpleasant essay/story entitled "Convalescing in the East Sisters' Weavers' House"). Clocking in at a torturous 10 minutes, "Spanish Moss" is purely an endurance test, and one that few will likely pass.

But nothing on the album can compare with the outlandish unleashing Forbes and Fernow conjure up for their collaborative closing track, "Young Lords." After two and half minutes of lulling, solo acoustic guitar finger-picking, a floodgate of formless pain opens, burying everything in insane, churning, white-hot scream and static. It sounds like 30 naked bodies being flung on to a huge grill. Bodies writhing, flesh melting, vocal cords shredding with uncontrollable, anguished cries. It crosses the threshold between wild power electronics and an all-out genocidal re-enactment. Honestly, it's like they field recorded a primitive mass murder. Of this feat, Forbes and Fernow are probably very proud.

By Britt Brown

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