At Rear House


The hits just keep on coming from Shrimper. This time in the form of the mysterious duo Woods, hailing from upstate New York — the foot of Bear Mountain as they tell it. Jeremy Earl and Christian DeRoeck form the heart and mind of the project, gathering other musicians into a loose collective as needed to fashion their gorgeous, tattered hymns and DIY tape experiments.

“Don’t Pass On Me” sounds like a field recording of an old worksong, gritty and boxy, fronted by two Devendra Banharts. The vibe is tense and motorik, however. “Hunover” continues the lowest-fi aesthetic, but this number is altogether more comforting and soft, conjuring a thick haze of twanging sonics that smolder and then flare up into occasional bursts of manic country-rock, but it’s so fucking mysterious and enticing, like backporch My Bloody Valentine, a threadbare shoegazing.

The tinny, ascending guitar lines (like antique version of Television’s glittering jewels) of “Keep It On” beguile, matched with double-tracked, dizzy falsetto vocals, insistent, swinging drums and the room ambiance leaving deep spaces between notes. “Be Still” is a majestic, narcotized, fuzzbox ramble, a late summer rainstorm that ebbs, drones and flows. Chains and sleigh bells chime in at the end. When one vocalist’s lonely voices breathes and sighs, “No girls allowed / Back of the van” over a distant banjo accompaniment and then some courtly lines about chapel bells — well, I’m smitten. Sometimes his voice overloads the tape levels like David Allan Coe’s did on Penitentiary Blues. “Night Creature” is a heartbreak horror story; makes me think of Roky Erickson, yep yep.

“Walk the Dogs” is a trebly, terrifying Barrett-meets-Buttholes mantra drone. “Bone Tapper” seems drenched in surrealist weirdness by the lyrical concerns, but the performance is so sweet and untrammeled by the mundane concerns of the day. That is, until nightmarish scratching and voices intrude like a séance, but only briefly.

“Picking Up the Pieces” has the same spookiness and minimalist claustrophobia as early Residents, mixed with a hypnotic nursery rhyme quality.

Late night disorientation, transient noise intrusions, alien falsettos, dimly lit heartbreak, brittle guitar strings, taped-up drumkits, misty forests, warm lights — all here.

Woods: www.fuckittapes.com/woods.htm • Shrimper: www.midheaven.com/labels/shrimper.html

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