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Cadaver in Drag - Raw Child

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Artist: Cadaver in Drag

Album: Raw Child

Label: Animal Disguise

Review date: Jan. 11, 2008

Cadaver in Drag’s Raw Child features the photo of a slain zebra conspicuously layered overtop a turbulently burning forest. These two catastrophic images elicit an urgent reaction, one of outrage and lament, but also one of helplessness under nature’s unforgiving rule of thumb. It’s a fitting introduction to this dubious four-piece from Lexington, Kentucky. Within and without this debut LP lies a chaos unredeemable.

Cadaver in Drag is traditionally a two-man act: Jason Schuler with his unwieldy lyrical delivery and guitar sludgery, and Josh Lay, a relentless drummer who avoids cliché cadences and keeps with a ritual of nomadic proportion. Together they have forged sounds of frenzy, terror, emotional mania, repetition, and a questionable decidedness – prototypical noise music uncomfortable easy to categorize. That’s not the case with Raw Child. Schuler and Lay recruited Robert Beatty on synthesizer and Ben Allen on guitar and transcended the band’s former cubbyhole, plagued with a message of mortal sobriety.

As for contextualizing its sound, Raw Child has dug deep, clawing vigorously, infusing an opinion of this world that other nations in other galaxies belonging to other stars could feasibly turn up to 11. I have heard listeners mistake members of Cadaver in Drag for brutal face-punchers who create only to destroy. But these men actually seem well-intentioned, emotionally forward and unique visionaries. Their methods of displaying opinions decry an inherent need to abide change, to summon the filth with rags of hot water and soap, and clean up the mess that is all around. Raw Child does this.

It’s a web of three tracks unlimited in scope, connected by lines of light, melancholic final notes before tromping through more unexpected territory. Schuler’s haunting vocals are disruptive, cacophonic, a yelling that is long overdue. “Secession ‘61” drags out the hangover that reaps from the stealthy imbibing of the first two tracks, like an awakening and opening of the pores to pull out the dirt. The title of this track specifically heralds the exodus of the Southern States from the Union during Civil War days. For Kentucky, historically, the Civil War added an air of schizophrenia, as the state was divided in what it morally supported, abolitionism or slavery, brothers slaying brothers. Knowing the context, it’s almost like scream therapy. The damage is done, it’s only a matter of determining loyalists and revolutionaries. The back-and-forth surround sound adds a playful, otherwise unnoticed hue, continuing the album’s dialogue of dire emotionalism.

And so, Cadaver in Drag has begun something epic, beyond labels, beyond clever quips. If we consider Raw Child the group’s debut (discounting the unofficial cassettes and strong cult following), this is ahead of its time, insinuating that what we know about this or that is puerile.

By Kate Hensley

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