nedjelja, 10. veljače 2013.

Mattress - Lonely Souls (2011)

Glas zalizan svećeničkim briljantinom pada na pod i progriza rupu sve do '80-ih. Ovako će zvučati podrumski bendovi iz 23. stoljeća koji oponašaju Joy Division.


Mattress at Holocene: Vimeo

The Machine is ragged and greasy as it plunges through a hellish night thick with angst and sin. The Cadillac roars towards the dawn, gritty and loose, pushing the moist, dense air aside like a dirty curtain yet the sun never rises and we keep circling, circling, somewhere, in wide long ellipses through the night - the speakers shudder as the bass throbs and oily synths stab and all we can hear after hours and hours of this music - like a cross between Suicide and Cotton Mather - is that your salvation is nonexistent and that you will be alone, like everyone else. -

Portland's Field Hymns label has been belting out all kinds of audible treasures this year, with a really varied batch of tapes from the likes of Oxykitten, White Glove, Zac Nelson and Adderall Canyonly.These two releases are definitely my own personal favorites from Field Hymns, and possibly even two of the more memorable cassettes I'll come across in 2011.Take a look at their catalog, listen to some tunes, they've got something for everyone.
  The first is a quite addictive new album from Portland lone wolf, Mattress.Lonely Souls is dimly lit, doom-filled stagger across some rather dreary terrain, a minimalist bender soaked with drastic tones, hazy synth repetitions, shuffled beats, all of which are completely punch-drunk on Rex Marshall's brooding, haunted vocal passages.His vocals have all the deep, well-read bitterness of Stephen Merritt, with a bit of Nick Cave's demonic slurring, and Alan Vega's breathy barks and yelps.All of these are fairly obvious comparisons, but the more you hear his voice, the more soulful and unique it begins to sound, despite the blatantly bitter vibe he give off.He's got a style of phrasing that's all his own, unraveling his bold words with powerful sermon-like delivery.Unlike a lot of similar solo ventures, this isn't some barely audible  bedroom tinkering.Mattress' music is completely focused and full-bodied, powered by bulky analog melodies and backed by a dense percussive swagger.He's joined by a live drummer on a few of these tracks, which fleshes them out a bit, a might give a little insight to what he sounds like on stage.
  Lonely Souls has all the sleaze and muscle of early Suicide, with heavy organ repetitions and a sweaty, sexual vibe, harboring all of the elements of classic soul and r&d recordings, and gently topped off with layers of modern synthesizers and other digital sounds.A bit of a departure from 2009's Low Blows LP, this album is a severely solid listen from front to back, and is sure to end up on at least a few upcoming "year end" lists, including my own.-

Oh, my friends know how i usually hate vocals.. It makes no sense for me when someone tries to talk to you and play music at the same time. First music, talk afterwards. But there are exceptions, no surprises. The man behind 'Mattress' (oh well...) is a master. His voice rapaciously corbonadoes the sound as a ship plows the waves. Stunning! At the same time it incidentally turns subtle and even tender. Greasy and at times lo-fi synth plot gives a broad picture of slightly meditative electronic and dance stuff that harks back into 80s.
Splendid work! -

Ah, another breath of fresh air from the indie rock scene!  I haven’t heard much from this 5 year old band, but their latest tape Lonely Souls has made a real impression on me.  It is an original blend that I will deem “synth-punk.”  The synth casts a dark shadow over the whole ambiance of the music, the Suicide-like beats drop like acid rain, the mechanical monotone adds to the entire eeriness, and the bass line generally plucks away at three rippin’ chords.  The only downside is that this six-track EP is under half an hour.  The psychedelic art of the cover with its desert theme and trippy patterns describes this one well as it feels like it could be inspired by the hallucinatory narcotics and lounge sleaze of a what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas misadventure.  Limited to 100 on pro imprinted opaque red tapes and pro printed j cards. - Dave Miller

 Most bands go for the lapel grab, insisting on your attention from the first notes of the first song of a live set or album. The rare and often more interesting bands prefer to sidle up alongside you, put an arm around your shoulders and slowly seduce you. At least that’s the impression that the new EP by self-proclaimed “cyborg gospel” outfit Mattress left me with.
No beats get above the pace of your average heartbeat, and the drum patterns tend to hide in the background to provide a buttress between the Suicide-style synth drones and godhead Rex Marshall’s basso profundo vocalizing. It’s an amazingly effective formula that works over your senses with an intoxicating fervor.
Where does the gospel part of Mattress’ sound come in? Marshall seems to inhabit the role of a futuristic tent revival preacher, all sweat and insinuation. He chastises the listener on the skittering “Lied Again,” falls to his knees imploring the Holy Spirit to “Shake Me” and closes this six-track EP with an agonized reminder that “only lonely souls go to heaven.”
As slowly as Lonely Souls will sneak up on your senses, it will quickly rattle you around and leave you spent at the end. Just thank whatever God you pray to that it is only 25 minutes long. Any more, and you might not make it out alive.- Robert Ham

This cassette from a mysterious one-man project by Rex Marshall, aka Mattress, sees the output of the Portland synth label in a more pop (or rather, something-wave)-oriented, concise form. It is one slow burner of an album, setting the buzzing, skeletal analog beats against the low-pitched, gothic vocals.
The songs here are strangely catchy and once we get through the early Peaking Lights level of lo-fi simplicity and murkiness, we discover real songwriting talent for nearly apocalyptic, frighteninly raw gems channeling the coldness of the 80’s industrial-electronic scene. In fact, the sounds on Lonely Souls stay closer to the unwelcoming alienation of cold wave than the relaxing New Age-isms of most of the synth scene. The songs here are skewed and infused with a sinister air, like a mutated, distorted version of synth pop, a post-radiation, disfigured monster waiting behind the nearest corner to jump on the unsuspecting synth-loving teenagers. Unsurprisingly, the back cover shows Rex Marshall standing in a labcoat on a hood of an 80’s Chevrolet with an imposing nuclear power plant cooling tower in the background.
Lonely Souls is a piece of warped, raw hypnagogia - but instead of recalling bucolic New Age or wide-eyed glossy pop music, Marshall here channels the gloomier sides of 80’s music, when the prospects were bleak and the skies were gray with soot. This is synth music powdered with soot from the factory chimneys. -

 AWOL Dolby-droid Rex Marshall (Mattress) is back at it with half a platter for the very fine Field Hymns label, following his 2008 LP debut (which apparently passed us by), and in time for the vinyl reissue of his ‘Eldorado’ EP from way back when Animal Psi was still feral.  Very amenable to those six tracks are the six tracks of ‘Lonely Souls’: comparisons stand to the delivery of Ian Curtis (now a little lower and a lot slower) and Suicide (the soundscape all electronic and slightly screwed), now with more emphasis on beats and precision layers of textured low-end.  A pulsing rotary complements the quavering layer of woahwoahwoahwoooaah on “Lied Again.”  “Shake Me” is not some Happy Days barn-burner, but a blackened church-burner of Danzigian defiance (“you can’t shake shake shake/you can’t shake shake shake/you can’t shake shake shake/shake me loose”) with a sequence of jerky dollops.  Live drumming from Ethan Jayne on “Dead Ends” cribs the flakaflak intro to Faith No More’s “Midlife Crisis”, sounding something like a MIDI-fied Black Keys with its organ rhythms and laundry list of bellyachin.  Closer “Only Lonely Souls” loops us back around to Joy Division’s “Dead Souls”, though shot-through with a cosmic beams, souding more like “Transmission” with a half-rusted pogo-coil.  Worth its weight in Alternative radio references, Marshall’s obvious contribution to the broadcast will be “Forget My Name”: made of the same 4 or five layers of choice vibe, the harmonics align and the groove locks, forcing even Marshall into the upper registers, harmonizing with second vocal tracks, punctuated by little rivets of electronic foible and stomping percussion.  On imprinted red cassettes with glossy inserts, hand-numbered with a DL code.  Recommended!  -

  • Eldorado  (2011)
     "I found a reason to live." Rex Marshall of Mattress says on the first track of Eldorado, and I'm inclined to believe this theatrical character, even if it comes off as desperate, I think at least he has convinced himself for the moment, despite the cold, bleak way he's chosen to express it.
    Although this was released back in '06 as a CDR, it's very related to Dirty Beaches, with that same kind of combination of vocal abandon, weirdo soul, and blues yelps.
    There's definitely a backwoods country soul living in these songs full of paychecks and pawnshops...that monotonous beat shares the same overcompensation for mechanics as Dirty Beaches does, and instead of a lost in translation reinterpretation of southern rockabilly Elvis, Mattress explores a John Waters character, reveling in pure weirdo and pushing the boundaries of taste....both of which owe a lot to Suicide for starting this apocalypse in the first place.

    The title track, "Eldorado" has a creepy warbly howl vocal that could even go back to a Cramps, TV on the Radio hybrid and the specific outsider choices they make. He's sounding sweaty, weighted down with chains, (probably not gold, since he's really looking forward to his discovery), drives an old rusty cadillac and probably owns that stip club on the edge of town that no one has ever been to. The thing is he's convincing you of all this seedy underbelly with instrumentation that would never normally sound like back alleys and smoke filled OTB's, minimal electronics aren't exactly tools for this kind of bleak realism...but then, oh yea, don't forget Joy Division.
    He sounds desperate to find that lost city where everything is going to be made of gold, with his vocal breaking apart...he's going to make himself find it. This delusion, that crack with reality sort of permeates everything and a distorted harmonica, which sounds like it's pieced together from samples is a great echo of
    Like a loungey Blank Dogs figure where that crooning somehow adds another layer of creepiness. The digital mystery wasn't enough. Mattress is assuming that shadowy electronic world already exists and he's created a personality to perform there. A superstar entertainer within the bleak apocalypse, because I'm convinced by Mattress that they'll exist there...and that they'll be as idiosyncratic as this.
    The B-Side's first track, "Got to come on" is using that Arise, Therefore organ fake beat, it's the halfhearted compromise to attempt to add some humanity to the proceedings. Here he is singing how there's too many songs about the bad times which is beyond ridiculous coming from the inherently cold, distant sound like this. He's thought a long time about how there's too many downer songs and this is a song for you? Who's he kidding? Still very much living in this self created delusion to the point by the end of the side he's belting out, "I've been looking for my people!" and it's a clear call for some freaky listeners who if they are taking i this last track, they've found each other.
    Stephen Merritt says in "Strange Powers" that all songs are just rehashing classic pop sentiments and structures, that all the songs out there have already been written...just completely cynical. I have to think he's being just a little facetious, but it made me think about how anyone at this point could ever sit at home and say there's nothing out there for them... that all music sucks. Mattress is proof you just haven't looked hard enough. If you can honestly be bored by a playlist then you are just plain lazy with fringes out there like this.

    It's an album that sounds great on vinyl by the way, like Trans-Europe Express, hearing those extreme, unnatural snare hits or... button presses in this case and an ultra low end thump of a cheap overcompensating drum machine, but with such insane clarity, it almost is psyche in that attempt at altering reality. I started to imagine this might be what it would sound like if the art museums put together a halloween album with Jesco White.
    in Eldorado, he's describing all the gold dresses, gold airplanes, gold roads...never suggesting that there would be any down side to the fantasy. But I know if Mattress ever acheived it, this nervous, psychosis would be over, and that would be very bad for the audience.
    This one is on heavy red clear vinyl running at 45rpm, $12 from Malt Duck Records:
    Eldorado was originally released in 2006 on CDR – the very first release by Mattress. Since then, Mattress has put out a 7-inch single and two full length albums. Rex Marshall, the mastermind behind Mattress, is a Las Vegas native who currently resides in Portland, OR.

    Eldorado is an incredibly minimal, raw, and sometimes frantic record, yet it some how creates a sense that hope can prevail even in the dire post-apocalyptic vision formed by its beats. This is definitely synth done raw – which is often times synth at its finest. Rex’s vocal styling is what makes this record incredibly unique though. The crony vocals, reminiscent of a gin guzzling lounge singer, reveal his true Vegas roots. He’s one of those people who dare to sing - with most excellent results. -
     Not for the faint of heart, Rex Marshall’s newest release as Mattress is audibly visceral and uniquely his own, a mix of ghastly vocals and screeching synthesizers. And while it’s certainly not the most polished album, Eldorado EP offers plenty in the way of unabashed realism and guitar free rock and roll.
    With each track backed mostly by simple keyboard loops that anybody with a twenty dollar Casio could record, Marshall cares not for the complex and the lofty; rather, he relies upon the tone and volume of the sounds to craft his portraits. The album’s opening track, “Reason To Live” is hardly anything more than an archaic drum kick and snare beat played though what sounds like a Windows 95 sound card. And while it might be simple in construct, it’s Marshall’s unmistakable and gorgeous vocals that make Eldorado worth coming back to again and again.
    If you’ve heard a Mattress album before, or any of Marshall’s other side projects, you know exactly what I’m talking about: that raspy, sinister lounge singer voice, deep and masculine yet riddled with pain and fear. “So I thought a long time about this song/ About this song, for you,” sings Marshall on “Bad Times,” a tribute to writing about other people as a cathartic release.
    It’s that same emotion that runs through all of Marshall’s work, but especially here on Eldorado. Mattress seems like one big exhale of emotion for Marshall — a way of cleansing himself from the evils around him. I can’t help myself from getting lost in the album, but even more scary than our reality is Marshall’s reality, a schizophrenic desert where we’re constantly running in circles looking for answers we don’t have. Eldorado is a world unto itself, and it’s a state of mind I suggest you journey to. - Erik Burg
     Low Blows (2009) streaming
    Low Blows' finds Marshall trafficking in gritty, chunky beats, with an emphasis on his sound's low end and an increasing reliance on guitar...this recordr has a homespun, distant feel, but it's warmer than its predecessor... it's that voice - which falls somewhere between the conversational speech of an undertaker and a preserved '50s lounge singer unfrozen during the apocalypse that makes these songs tick... an instrument this unique is immune to the sophomore slump.' -Michael Manheimer
    In some far off future, there is a terrible shack of a bar in a back alley on another planet, and Rex Marshall of Mattress makes his living (just barely) singing with a sequencer (if that's what they still call it) for a few bucks that found their way into his tip jar. A Han Solo Tom'd be glad to see him I'm sure, if you stumbled across his show. You'd thank him for here was some bit of humanity left in this definitely messed up apocalypse. Mattress recalls a long gone past... romanticising the cabaret or vaudeville acts and updating them with electronic sounds that are ancient, but always sound like that unobtainable future.
    And if you had a record label in that broken worlds, you'd release it like Malt Duck has, only it's 2010...and this record is simultaneously ahead and behind of it's time. Is that timeless?
    This anti-time clear vinyl full length ended up on my turntable thanks to Melissa at Malt Duck, I mentioned Mattress' single when they first released it and wasn't expecting this distinct, even more specific direction from the band. It's been refined into a really unique vision, shedding any kind of easy reference.
    I can't help but picture a sort of a lounge-y Glen Danzig with the tech minimalism of Blank dogs, but where Mr. Sniper takes a basically pop song approach, Mattress goes a Velvet Underground direction with monotonous rhythms trapped in amber, amazing because they still exist, that they've been plucked from the abyss of unused sounds and given new life. It's a tribute to automation...the assembly line. They are almost naturally occurring electronic sounds that used to have a purpose...a hum of an oscillator, a transformer. They are just background to an industrial age, Mattress might as well be out there singing a capella in the factory yard to the rhythm.
    They're Kraftwerk era sounds, the beginning of making pure music out of tweaking sine waves with knobs and switches. What goes with the minimal single note unpolyphonic score to this sci-fi film that got the future so wrong? It's the emotional crooning of a washed up star. But it's so wrong, it makes sense.
    This world is dark, and I imagine while recording you've been heavily drinking, and more than once you lull yourself to sleep with the sweet fabrication sounds of metal clanging through the headphones. I'm beginning to feel in on the joke, especially on 'Penny for your Thoughts'. Two notes banged out by robots, those long mechanical arms from a long since closed car's all they do, back and forth, high and low. But to sing like this... It's truly cracking me up in the best way. I'm laughing with him. It's the way he commits to this persona and anti-music that completes the scene. Oh, Suicide... how many bands have you inspired?
    "Don't It' is so murky and slow, the bpm doesn't even register. His question, 'Don't it make you wanna lose your mind?' can be easily answered. I remember an interview with Black Dice where they talked about being interested in overwhelming the audience completely, literally changing your perception through the noise. I think an album of this is doing the same thing really, you spend time in this world and it's going to make you think about everything differently. Recordings that effect you on that level are never easy, but that's a gift, dear readers.
    This is made for vinyl and the insane bass vibrations from the low end synth. It's mostly not going to shake the house, but these little moments that catch you off guard...that sound was in there? Do I turn it down? No. Shake the neighbors.
    If I was listening to this on cassette, 10 years ago (20- ed) I'd throw the thing out, it's obviously time to get a new one...or the batteries are going to their slow death, barely enough left to spin the'll never dance to this, just stand there motionless and watch the weirdness unfold.
  • Heavy Duty  (2008)


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