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Slomo - The Creep

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Artist: Slomo

Album: The Creep

Label: Fuck Off & Di

Review date: Nov. 20, 2005

Slomo is Chris “Holy” McGrail and Howard Mardsen, and The Creep is ostensibly the duo’s first recording, attained via “minimal overdubs,” and “zero eye contact.” No instrumentation is listed, yet one might guess synth, as McGrail’s primary weapon is such, and perhaps [prepared] guitar, as low tonal washes ebb and flow around a central droning synth buoy, much like Rafael Toral’s work on Violence of Discovery.

The Creep serves as album title and the lone piece therein; all one hour and 27 minutes of it is as engagingly irritating as one’s first meditation session, where focus is a shell lost to the surf; one’s day-to-day inevitably culminating with an insomnia fueled undertow of “grownup” minutiae: Did I pay that bill? When will I have time to get an oil change? How can she sleep? Blood shot eyes greet alarm clock LED and it starts anew – just as The Creep does: Is there any difference in the central drone? As it culminates in an electric yawn, does it rifle through another set of permutations? Does the guitar react to these changes? Is that a guitar at all? Has the disc started over, just begun, or merely stuck on a smudge of fingerprint? Roll over.

Actor Christopher Walken fought against a Playboy interview by offering that detailing his life was akin to “watching paint dry.” The interview happened; Walken took to it with all the fervor of folding his underwear fresh from the dryer. McGrail and Mardsen like watching paint dry; they’ve practically fetishized it. The Creep is the paint, the brush’s bristles, the creak in the old hardware store ladder as Chuck Taylor’d feet relax on its rungs; it’s the low swish of the brush’s head on smooth walls; the excess hue that sags in a blubbery tear; the paint spatters that spill over white coveralls like a confetti of fleas.

With The Creep, Slomo finds itself operating in loci similar to that of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, Vol. 2, or even Denny Zeitlin’s superb soundtrack work for Philip Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers [1978]. Uneasy, brooding, and honestly unsettling, this disc slowly works its way out of the speakers and into the psyche. Ingrained, it’s impossible to put it down, lock it away, carry it to the street with the beer and Scotch bottles to be recycled. Inactivated, it defiantly surfaces in the cat’s purr, the Volk’s engine knocks, a fritzing hard drive. Regressing from artifice to idea isn’t anything new to the world of process music, but inducing paranoia via repeated listens is. Listen at one’s own risk.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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