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Men’s Recovery Project / Dove Yellow Swans - The Very Best of Men’s Recovery Project / Live During War Crimes

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Artist: Men’s Recovery Project / Dove Yellow Swans

Album: The Very Best of Men’s Recovery Project / Live During War Crimes

Label: 5RC / Release The Bats

Review date: Nov. 7, 2005

Is there more noise now than before? Back in the ‘90s in my college radio days, there seemed to be no shortage of experimental music based around power electronics (in the Merzbow/Incapacitants/Hijokaidan mold, or the Macronympha all-bondage serial killer style), harsh, battleship-gray clanging and soundscapes of industrialist misery as documented on those RRR CDs in the black slipcases with the identical artwork. And of course it extended back further, with polar opposites of Nurse With Wound’s endless collages of fuck-sound massacres against Whitehouse’s totalitarian noise screed oppressiveness, and to many other forward and likewise untoward examples, all unique in their own ways Fast-forward about 10-15 years, and the scene has morphed into a Technicolor yawn of light and energy, a place where those who rode the worthless wave for years (see Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, for example) are looked upon as demi-gods, while new jacks replicate acid trips and filter emo and hardcore tendencies into dense sheets of noise. It’s now not only possible, but favorable, for a kid under the right circumstances can skip over punk rock as a form of rebellion entirely and just move straight on to electronics and noise. They’re real; we saw them stagediving to Hair Police at No Fun Fest.

The question is this: how do you speak to a generation that was just born and is probably a lot smaller than anyone will give credit for? Where do the youth gone wild for Neon Hunk or Kites consider their roots to be? Is it even worth obsessing over this micro-genre? The answer to the latter is a resounding YES. You’re reading Dusted; is there even any question? Not knowing what’s down these paths, even if they end up fruitless for you, is definitely going to haunt you, possibly to a great extent, if you choose to ignore it. And there are some dead ends, of course, but that comes with any style of music you may choose to listen to. It’s what you make of it that counts, but it’s also important to gauge listenership and opinions on this stuff; otherwise it just sits out in the void, begging for discovery.

D(ove) Yellow Swans – where the D can stand for anything – is a Portland guitar ‘n’ beatsquelch combo who play as if they looked at the entire Behringer equipment catalog and sad “we’ll take it.” The six untitled compositions on Live During War Crimes, a collection of compilation tracks recorded in 2004, are as volatile as they are repetitive, incorporating racing technoid rhythms and mutated bass pulse over dozens of layers of frantic riffing, screaming, static, delay passages and bleeps run together at great velocity, but just shy of anything that can be construed as good for the dancefloor. At its best, all these disparate sources coalesce into something that can be construed as familiar, and the longer you listen, the more engaging the tracks get. And on other occasions, they have all the coordination of a three-legged race and all the listenability of a radio tuned in between signals. With a band that’s got as many releases as these guys churn out, though, you’re not looking for quality in each one, sadly, but the germ of a strong idea that in itself could create a new genre of sound altogether.

When you’re talking dozens of releases, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring Men’s Recovery Project. Following the demise of his uptighty fuckshitup (and incredibly challenging & relevant) hardcore band Born Against, frontman and Vermiform CEO Sam McPheeters relocated to various downwardly-mobile parts of the United States, from Richmond, VA to Providence, RI to suburban California, and for nearly a decade dumped out release after release of electronic fart jokes and brave DIY electronic squee along with co-conspirator Neil Burke and a handful of guests and temporary band members, from the Rah Bras to Tonie Joy (Moss Icon, the Convocation Of) to Kathleen Hanna. Their sheer output was overwhelming to begin with; albums were short and felt incomplete, while singles and EP length releases would often cram as much into the grooves as possible, or dump 70 remarkably similar “remixes” onto one CD. MRP was never totally about the music, though. Live performances saw McPheeters arguing with a tape recording of himself, or running naked into a house armed with buckets of garbage food, which he threw on every available surface, then ran out to the van and sped away like a criminal from. On the opportunity I got to see them, his whole band was wearing skintight Spandex masks and struggling to complete clipped, aggressive versions of their own songs until a very large man, also clad in the same costume, beat McPheeters down and dragged him out of Brownie’s onto the sidewalk by his ankle.

None of this has much of anything – and yet everything – to do with the 40 tracks compiled on The Very Best of Men’s Recovery Project. These guys were allowed to run rampant on the fringes of DIY and independent music, and let loose to make what those fringes were known for, following in traditions laid down from the Residents and Devo all the way up through the Lightning Bolts and Hospital Productions of today. Most of the time, they crafted actual songs, or at the very least a good joke. With synthesizers and gadgetry, they explored the horrors of towing the line, the underside of the bloated and sprawling middle class as the ultimate fuck-you to the gift of birth and a life filled with rewards. There can be joy and humor in listening to a stressful AppleTalk conversation entitled “Get the Fuck Out of My Office,” a blazing fast electronic grindcore anthem entitled “The Mayor Is a Robot” (“I AM THE MAYORRRRRRRR! AHAHAHAHAHA!”), the gassy bash of “Occoquan” (in reference to the lack of food in a tidal Virginian backwater), or the bendy, robotic demands issued in “You Pay Attention to Me, Not Vice Versa.” But more than anything else, this music is completely terrified by the status quo it mocks. Forty songs could either be far too much or not enough of this band for many of you, but at no point in its hour-long running time does it get boring or pat; rotary-connected skronk, science fiction and new-reality fears fall together into a Grand Guignol of Soylent Green and Logan’s Run, a future shot completely out of control, set to dehumanize and debase the innocence that we all experienced as children. Though not entirely noisy, it succeeds where most latter-day experimentalists fail in creating a message, a reality to flee from.

By Doug Mosurock

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