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Hair Police - Drawn Dead

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Artist: Hair Police

Album: Drawn Dead

Label: Hanson

Review date: Aug. 18, 2005

Noise is a giant genre, but sometimes its heavyweights seem engaged in a pretty straightforward, narrow-track race to just out-brutalize one another. Pure, unmoored sound is obviously an inconceivably vast playing field, so the options should theoretically be limitless. But you’d have to literally be deaf to deny that noise is most known for its aesthetic of violence. The list is endless: Merzbow’s bondage soundtracks, Hijokaidan’s blood-letting rituals, Prurient’s serial killer screams, Sixes’ satanic blackness, Wolf Eyes’ stabbing parties, Hair Police’s microphone loathing, etc. Though the textures and instrumentation vary radically, the genre’s affiliation/obsession with dark, dismal imagery and miserable, ugly sounds is nearly synonymous in its ubiquity. Drawn Dead doesn’t exactly deviate from these stereotypes, but its strange restraint makes it stand at least somewhat apart from this year’s blood-splattered pack of harsh, hate-breeding noise records.

Unlike the broken-glass thrash of Obedience Cuts, and a million miles from in-the-red incinerator rock like Blow Out Your Blood, Drawn Dead focuses mainly on patience and pacing, which ends up making it sort of like Hair Police’s version of Music For Airports. Of course, since it’s HP, it’s more like “Music For Mass Body Burnings,” but still. The album is four long, untitled, largely ambient tracks that creep and drag and threaten, but never completely explode into the skull-crushing scream-storm frenzies Hair Police are (a bit predictably) known for. This isn’t to say, however, that Drawn Dead doesn’t trudge through some gnarly times; it definitely does. But the Kentucky trio are clearly channeling some anticipatory, sub-death vibes here. These are midnight ghost crawl jams, with fires burning deep in the woods. The violence is implied, withdrawn. Drawn dead, remember.

The songs’ basic sounds are a sputtering low-end throb, snaking deep in black grass, and high, wheezing, cicada-cries that trace like metal scraping metal. Occasionally a reverb shriek knifes through the stereo crackle, and they also employ a weird, disorienting, stop-start technique here that’s sort of new. They slowly build a muffled, burning roar, letting the flames writhe, then abruptly freeze everything in silence… pause… and resume. The jarring, uncomfortable jerkiness makes the music even more unsettling and undead, like the freaky muscular spasms of a corpse.

Despite the muted, horror soundtrack atmosphere, Drawn Dead does have one unhinged, unsubtle death scene. Track three is an 11-minute epic, most of which runs as a grinding, low-end demon growl, with sudden industrial screeches roiling above in the rafters. But deep in the piece, Hair Police start agitating, coaxing their bent-electronics mainframe into a meaner analog attack, and strange percussion pounds in, like long steel cables being beaten with a wrench. This torture passage increases, gets denser, and then suddenly a histrionic murder scream tears through everything, dying just as fast in a flurry of bludgeoning electricity. The cries try to cut into the mix again a couple more times later on, but the machines keep drowning them out. It’s hard to tell whether it’s supposed to be the voice of the victim, or the killer. It probably doesn’t matter.

By Britt Brown

Other Reviews of Hair Police

Obedience Cuts

Constantly Terrified

The Empty Quarter

Certainty of Swarms

Mercurial Rights

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