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Sissy Spacek - Devils Cone and Palm

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Artist: Sissy Spacek

Album: Devils Cone and Palm

Label: Misanthropic Agenda

Review date: Feb. 16, 2007

If you ever manned a college radio station, you were probably instructed that your volume levels should remain constant, “so that the listener does not have to adjust his radio.” Sissy Spacek basically flush that rule down the toilet, to the extent that listening to Devils Cone and Palm without great care puts your hearing at risk

The album’s single 22-minute track is more a series of vignettes of wildly varied tenor and length than a coherent “song”; these oscillate between anarchic freakouts and tense, seconds-long microcompositions. The material was cranked out in two sessions in ’05 and ’06, with Jesse Jackson on guitar, Corydon Ronnau singing, and John Weise doing pretty much everything else, though whoever cut it up and spliced it back together deserves the same lion’s share of credit that Yoshimi does for OOIOO

Devils Cone and Palm starts off with clicky, grinding guitar snippets, but within a few seconds there is a cataclysmic shift to VERY LOUD, whole-band whaling. Weise’s signature static wash makes Ronnau’s singing into petulant background. There are a few periods of such chaos on the disc, one of them lifted from a fan video of a Sissy Spacek show.

As the riot rolls along, minute No. 7 offers instant-long breath sounds placed in moments otherwise empty, quite sinister as their quick curtailment evokes drowning, or strangling. Filigreed feedback over Jackson’s or Weise’s strummed guitar makes the 11th minute nearly pretty before we are plunged back into the whorl. Minute No. 13 drones and then transitions, briefly, into a quiet field recording of the ventilation systems of an empty skyscraper.

Near the record’s conclusion, a cheering crowd becomes a riff on the tropes of concert records, the clapping and whistling perfectly in tune with and part of the overall sonic project rather than relief from it.

By Josie Clowney

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