Free noise might be a rung up from free jazz on the pretentiousness ladder. In any case, purveyors of this mad sound must have balls when trying to pass off something that could be less than nothing as more than something. While most music of this ilk is weighed down by heavy-handed seriousness, Smegma sounds like they’re having a blast altering everyone’s consciousness, even after 32 years.
Rumblings, the group’s first album in nearly a decade, is awash in severely frightening sound collages, extracted bent sine-wave radio tunings and stuff lifted from ’50s sci-fi films. Through this, a healthy dose of lo-fi indie noise and inexplicable moments of surf rock, the band has put together an inviting junk drawer of the last 50 years of pop culture. While it often seems like trying to navigate from song to song is akin to finding reason in a forest of pudding, the attention deficiency and absurdism of the band make the experience a fun one. There’s not a ponderous second to be found on here, especially when Blue Oyster Cult lyricist Richard Meltzer shows up as a free-form narrator, capping “Worms” with the non-sequitur “Christ on a fucking crutch, I am hard!” and regaling listeners with a state-by-state trip of hotdog slang on “Bunstuffer.” This might not be something you’ll want to listen to everyday, but it’s funnier than that Adam Sandler tape you bought in junior high, and it’s guaranteed to expand your musical palette as well.