TRACK | Cluttered Grotto – Pest

5/5 golden merles

More iridescent synth and egg punk from the young Californian, Cluttered Grotto has summoned a very strong set of the lo-fi and the sub-genre’d bedroom rock. “Pest” is my favorite of that lot, spurning excess in favor of burning briefly and brilliantly. If you’re fond to a fault of irrefutable and jagged things like Billiam, DADGAD, C.P.R. Doll, then you likely can’t go wrong here.

Folding into the verses, obsession and evasion are the subject; how desire turns to dust, then distraction, and the cycle repeats ad infinitum or until you croak. It reminds me of a few triumphant lines from Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow:

For all of these things melt away and drift apart within the obscure traffic of time. Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.

The longest track of the album at 1:53, when the solo hones in and bleeds off that chorus bringing it all home, you sorta hope it won’t end. But it’s off on to the next thing, of course. That is what the loop-repeat function is for. Nothing overstays and runs the melody into the ground, instead it lands briefly before it relaunches.

Two (2!) tapes remain from the newly minted legends at Painters Tapes, think of that.

TRACK | Cluttered Grotto – Asbestos Sandwich

5/5 golden merles

California bedroom punk with more melodic sense than a hijacked ice cream truck and a voice that sounds like cleaning off your lucky blood diamond with a stainless steel scouring pad. All of this is very good and meant to sound appealing to you, as it does to me. It is the relatively happy bastard child of subversion and invention, driving drum loops draped in human pelts.

Canonical-grade commiseration, it’s seated somewhere among the premier set of atomized and alienated subjects of oligarchy, each in isolation making lo-fi melody-rich synth punk. The craft is immediately recognizable. It’s a competitor, in the top tier. I’ve somehow managed to avoid it like an inverse minefield to date.

The turns are abrupt and appropriate, it mends and mangles in good order. If you are synced up with the wavelength fluctuations of the incessant vibration in dichotomy between deathly serious and inconsequential, it comes as a great relief. It feels a little like driving down a cliffside highway when you unexpectedly smash through a thin wall’s painted vista only to find on the other side not impending death but the true, identical vista itself and above it a prop plane trailing a banner containing the message, “haha, sorry.” It’s that kind of fun.

The EP was found on DJ Simon’s fine Infernal Racket. Really excited to dive into the self-titled from May.