Feb 22, 2008 - Daytrotter Studio, Rock Island, IL
- 1 Welcome to Daytrotter
- 2 Colette
- 3 Little Ghost
- 4 Mr. Rat-A-Tat
- 5 Sabina
Conspiracy Theories Are A Maybe But The Garden Variety Anxiety Brings The Panic Attacks
Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
Inexperience could fail in this assessment, but wouldn't the best way to be drugged come from it happening unknowingly, dropping you out of normalcy and into a land of helium talkers and mirror-balled dementia, where ballet is done on glass shards and amusements come in the forms of any number of things? It's better to not have a back door and helpful arrows pointing you out of the house of maddening insanity because -- should they happen to be there, lined with glow in the dark tape to spot forth in the shadows, you'd lunge for them instinctively, breaking out into fresh open air before the massive fall of the chemicals. Then again, maybe that bad trip never gets there and the intoxication is something that gets embraced after the befriending. There is more than one way to skin a cat or to make it rip out its own whiskers, as the case may be.
The sneak attack is how John Schmersal and Enon drug you - this is for sure - applying the glaze in thin layer after thin layer, soon enough turning the transparent film into a thick outer crust that makes everything you hope to look at appear cloudy and far off. You shiver and you're elsewhere. There it stands lulling in short bursts and then penetrating into your deep depths, surging and filling every available inch of your ear with a drag racing blitz. The snow is falling when seconds earlier there was heat and beach. All the while, there's a steady banging that shakes you from your grill to the tips of your hair and all the way to the soles of your shoes.
The initial understanding of the Philadelphia group that's completed and never complicated, just fulfilled, by Toko Yasuda and drummer Matt Schulz, is one of a speed that doubles on itself and stays there, jolting and ripping and then working, massaging the sour and sweet quadrants of the taste buds, efficiently coursing through all of the various turnstiles and frantic swoops. Cymbal crescendos and blackouts make for silver air, for a new sort of ozone that creates an implicit threat that someone's behind you, staring with binoculars, recording all of your boring and incriminating deeds. There's no out-running the private eyes and there's a stereotypical image of Schmersal or Tasuda tearing through alleyways just to find dead ends and chain link fences to scale before the bad guys can grab them, sprinting to get out of there, a scarf trailing out from behind in the chase, sunglasses still sitting coolly on the bridge of the nose.
Enon feels like espionage - being on the monitored side of things, not the hired dick side of them. It's about knowing that you're not alone and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, but rage and rage and rage. It's about causing a blister and then kneeding that blister, feeling it hurt, understanding that you brought that on yourself so don't cry about it, it's just temporary but you can draw it out if that's the route you want to go. Prolonging the dreadful anxiety of supervision and living throughout with little self-control is something that Tasuda pries from her vocal efforts - making the words she sings sound like the eerily calm pleas from a damsel in distress, almost cooing them, these words about paranoia and needless uncomfortability. It's downright unsettling and yet, it's spacey in a way that means you're not here anymore, you've warped into a dimension that isn't so perceptible, prim and proper. This is a universe that lets you freak out in a moment's notice, with no ill looks or scornful sneers. You just can. You can just lose it and you don't have to answer to anyone.
It's a big, long logbook of Schmersal's conspiracy theories or forms of theories - many non-specific claims and many more just worries that may or may not ever mature - that the band animates or re-animates to act as dilemma and dereliction, spraying the audience who dares get close enough with buckshot and pellets, arrows that probably should just be broken off and left in the body. They'll adapt and become new parts of the body, borrowing sugar from the throat - its neighbor to the north - and striking conversations with the skin, its new roof. They will join the other arrows that have taken refuge in Schmersal's body, claiming various parts as their own, making themselves at home. Once the fear or the misconception of impropriety in the world at-large is accepted, it takes over. Enon lets this happen, lets it steer and we just freak out together, wondering who killed Jon Benet and other such terrors that we all lose the sleep over.
"Our Daytrotter session was a whirlwind of a happening. We had just played Chicago two nights and had two days to get to Seattle and decided to fit the session in even with this limited schedule, which meant getting up before the crack of dawn in order to make it to the studio in Rock Island, Illinois and get a decent amount of driving in for that day as well afterward.
We were all pretty thrashed from our two-day stint in Chicago and there was a bit of that "fuck everything, let's go back to bed" vibe going around in the room when we were setting up. Sometimes sleep deprivation can be a good thing though. I was pretty excited about the no frills vibe of the studio as everything was going to be recorded live in one room and isolation of sounds was not a great concern. Meanwhile, the control room had some stuff I was really excited about having our sound run through. (a Gates tube limiter for one), It was going to be about just getting a plausible balance of sounds and hitting it. We had picked a few songs when we got there and quickly ended up swapping out our choices to fit the no frills recording style, forfeiting songs that required, electronics, sequencing etc. as monitoring for such songs makes for some complications. We decided on three from our new record Grass Geysers...Carbon Clouds -- "Colette," "Mr. Ratatatat," and "Sabina" -- and a new one that would be released on 7" by the end of the year on a label from Prague called Silver Rocket - "The Little Ghost of Jon Benet".
I have heard live recordings of our shows, radio sessions, etc. before but, this one feels a little different to me. There is something to be said about hitting a place like this in the middle of a tour, smack in the middle of the country, in the middle of a long drive between shows. Besides driving and eating Mexican food, this was the only productive thing we were going to be doing for the next two days. I think you can hear all of that in this session." - John Schmersal
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