ABOUT | BAND & ALBUM INDEX | SUBMIT | BEST OF 00–04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | E-MAIL | RSS | TWITTER

  MEMES

Compulsive List Making
Concert Reviews
Discographied
The Haul
Internal Affairs
iPod Chicanery
Newsflash
Quick Takes
Reading List
Reviews
Record Collection Reconciliation

  RECENTLY

Reviews: The Life and Times' The Life and Times
Reviews: Atoms and Void's And Nothing Else
Reviews: Survival Knife's "Traces of Me" and "Divine Mob" Singles
2013 (and 2012!) Year-End List Extravaganza
Reviews: Girls Against Boys' The Ghost List EP
Reviews: Bottomless Pit's Shade Perennial
Reviews: Carton / Alpha Cop Split Single
Reviews: Fuck Buttons' Slow Focus
Reviews: Speedy Ortiz's Major Arcana
Reviews: Two Inch Astronaut's Bad Brother

  ELSEWHERE

YouTube channel
Juno Documentary
Compete Level
Last.fm
Discogs
Dusted Magazine
Mark Prindle
One Week // One Band
The Onion AV Club
Rate Your Music

  BLOG ROLL

Albums That I Own
Barbotian Ocean 2.0
Between Thought and Expression
Bradley's Almanac
Built on a Weak Spot
By the Dream Power of the Trust Beast
Can't Stop the Bleeding
Clicky Clicky Music Blog
Discover a World of Sounds
Do You Compute
Dusty Altena
Fighting Tinnitus
First Order Historians
Gimme Tinnitus
Hardcore for Nerds
Magicistragic's Weblog
Mondo Salvo
Muzzle of Bees
Passion of the Weiss
The Power of Independent Trucking
Pretty Goes with Pretty
So Much Silence
Songs That Are Good
The Thinner the Air
Willfully Obscure

Reviews: The Skull Defekts' Peer Amid

The Skull Defekts' Peer Amid

Since the mighty Lungfish’s last (but hopefully not last) LP, 2005’s Feral Hymns, its punk-rock shaman/vocalist Daniel Higgs has released no fewer than seven decidedly outré solo records. (It’s hard to keep track of limited-edition, cassette-only entries.) If Lungfish’s ultra-repetitive punk-rock meditations are an acquired taste, Higgs’ ventures into distorted mouth-harp jams, cosmic/religious folk songs, and bizarre banjo instrumentals are the musical equivalent of Anthony Bourdain’s travels on No Reservations. Higgs can make those excursions palatable, but I still long for something resembling meat and potatoes. Fortunately, his newest turn as the frontman for Swedish post-punkers The Skull Defekts is an unexpectedly expected return to genuine—if twisted—rock music.

All of this build-up would be irrelevant if Higgs’ idiosyncratic vocal style failed to coalesce with The Skull Defekts’ experimental brand of post-punk. But the biggest surprise for Peer Amid is the naturalness of the pairing. You won’t mistake Peer Amid for a lost Lungfish LP, but hearing Higgs’ incantations of primitive mysticism linger over the unwavering intensity of the Skull Defekts’ locked-in rhythms, raga-informed guitar riffs, droning menace, and tribal percussion feels like a logical progression from his past work. Don’t fret if you come to Peer Amid without prior knowledge of Lungfish, Higgs, and the Skull Defekts’ considerable discographies—it’s just as valid of a starting point for newcomers.

Peer Amid covers considerable ground from the opening creaks of Higgs’ voice on the title track to the closing repose of “Hidden Hymn” (provided you’ve picked up the 2LP version with this bonus song and an alternate track order). “Peer Amid” circles mercilessly over its nine-minute runtime, lashing out with occasional venomous strikes, but the overall effect is less of a vicious assault and more of a suffocating constriction. “No More Always” is an energetic, raga boogie—a nihilistic hit single on some distant world of lizard people. The droning “Gospel of the Skull” finds Higgs ruminating on “your resonating skull sound” like no one else on earth could. The wordless chants of “The Silver River” evoke Indiana Jones peering in on the sacrificial rites of an evil cult. The eight-minute “In Majestic Drag” treats Higgs’ otherworldly cries as another element in an unnerving soup of tribal drumming, buzzing electronics, and malfunctioning guitar riffs. CD closer “Join the True” pairs Higgs’ unsettlingly calm delivery (“Join the true / Easy to do / Be as one / Who passes through”) with another hypnotic groove as you’re indoctrinated into this bizarre cult.

Time will tell if Daniel Higgs’ collaboration with The Skull Defekts is a one-off or an ongoing venture. The circular nature of these compositions—that tail-eating snake on the cover is no accident—might imply that Peer Amid is a closed loop, but I’d prefer if this collaboration continues. It won’t stop Higgs from venturing into the great beyond for inspiration, but it will provide a more accessible gateway for those interested in his cosmic sermons.

If you’re holding out hope for a Lungfish reunion, the current Skull Defekts tour offers you a tease. Lungfish guitarist Asa Osborne’s Zomes solo project opens up for the Higgs-equipped Skull Defekts. Maybe you’ll get a few quick performances from Higgs and Osborne’s The Pupils.

COMMENT ON THIS ENTRY

COMMENTS