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4 June 2010

Bugskull - 'Snakland' (Scratch)

For this vinyl long-player, Bugskull (now sans-umlauts, perhaps due to Canadian importation laws, as this is on Vancouver label Scratch) step it up a notch. Things sound cleaner, though not necessarily studio-quality - just with better drum mics. There are crazier layers of psychedelic excess, like frantic synths and more clarity in these excursions, relying on timbre over fuzz. The songwriting feels a bit regressed, or maybe I should say that instead of concentrating on the lyrical side hinted at on Phantasies and Senseitions, there is more development of the musical sketches there. Lyrics are present, though often repetitive chants like 'We are coming' ('From the Skies') instead of personal lyrical material. But this suits the album's overall artwork and presentation - adorned with toys and stuffed animals, Snakland feels like a record that Jeff Koons would have made. There is still a band here, though a 3-piece, and the rhythm section falls into 90s indie swing occasionally. Sean Byrne keeps it interesting with all of the layers, and the buzzing and spurting electronics often give the record the vibe of a haunted Toys R' Us. 'Mind Phaser' is perhaps Snakland's most epic track, sounding like early Mercury Rev if the wordy guy was kept in-check. I'd say this is a 'transitional' album, but that's usually a term for lazy writing. 'Bouncer' certainly points towards the electronica direction they will take, but with a significantly more clubby feel than the mild textures to follow a few albums later (I guess that's why it's called 'Bouncer'). Underneath these beats are some thick My Bloody Valentine guitar smears, like traffic in a city tunnel. Don't blink or you'll miss it. 'Exit Wound', the closing track, is long and meandering, with the wound not far from "Nurse With", if you get my drift. And drift it does, through heavily modulated darkwoods with screaming (yet largely organic) murk behind it.

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