Soft Abuse

Pumice’s Stefan Neville’s brand of lo-fi transcends the genre’s standard signpost of simple 4-track tape hiss. With Persevere, one of his most recent 7-inches, he makes the statement that his ability to make music isn’t hindered by the constant deterioration of his musical and recording equipment — it actually serves as a benefit. Side A features “The Dawn Chorus of Kina,” a ramshackle instrumental that begins with natty guitar chords scraping against the steady pulse of bass and blown-out drums. It doesn’t take long for this groove to disintegrate into a stutter-stop clatter of angular melody and, later, into a washed-out build and bloom of drums and almost-peaking spines of guitar. It’s a beautifully skuzzy nugget of music.

Two covers make up the B-side — Michael Hurley’s “Open Up” and The Axemen’s “Pacific Ocean” — and they’re both given a relatively spare treatment. The former has double-tracked guitar and vocals which don’t always quite sync up and create a kind of drunken disequilibrium, while the latter consists of slack-key ukulele, a brief flourish of accordion, and a vocal turn from Neville that sounds like Stephen Merritt singing at a melancholy luau.

One of the few true lo-fi innovators left in indie music, Neville has a mountain of releases under his belt and Persevere is a fine place to experience his genius for the first time.

Soft Abuse: www.softabuse.com

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