The most wonderful thing about America is having the freedom to record just about anything and hype it as art. Case in point, San Diego's Recant. Formed in late 2001 this collaborative duo, Brian H and David, have created a post-post modern homage to industrial noise and nihilistic imagery ala The Wall, more so in concept than substance. Gesture is Recant's official debut, an abrasive assembly of "harsh collision of industrial, noise and otherwise extreme electronic music that aurally assaults the listener," to quote them. Influenced by noises, films, art, drugs, as well as "run down towns, people and things" (and even, whimsically, Kevin Spacey), Recant has created a deliberately unnerving score of effervescent perversion and debauchery for their personally shot films, which correlate with their live performances. Picture the illegitimate children of Andy Warhol having a field day proving their lineage.
Listening to Gesture, it's painfully obvious sirs Brian H and David have spent gratuitous hours exposing themselves to a king's ransom of harsh, caustic imagery, as evidenced on the opening track Under the Sycamore Tree, which tweaks hauntingly like the opening screeches of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Other tracks like Latch, Torment and Anesthetic rake the senses dull with outbursts of painful fuzz distortion amidst nervous, hollow samples that somehow keep this project legitimate; keep it from being, say, the next Mike Patton solo project. Yet, their abstract craft rings familiar; in many ways, Recant has conjured up the principles laid down by Pigface, perhaps taking added inspiration from, say, Max Ernst paintings, and run amok with their own jagged style of nonconformity.
Internal features a rapid procession of quirky beats amidst an onslaught of Space Invader-like detonations, leering insidiously like an '80s video game gone on the fritz. Gandharvas is a galloping array of urban crunch that hails as a soundtrack to the apocalypse, while Severance continues this violent theme with stomp electronica fused with a doom-laden score. Puzzle Box extends the trend with splintering sszzzzzzt! noises, a full-frontal attack on the eardrums reminding one, amidst the sci-fi-esque sequences, that this project takes no prisoners. Do or die, listen or put on a Santana disc. Mass Dispersal clangs oddly like a martial arts movie thrown into a meat grinder. Convulse, however, is pure genius; it rings subliminal like a Twilight Zone episode with enervating clacking sounds coated with an innocuous, slave-driving synth tone; it's as if we're listening to the empathetic woes of the typist of the damned.
It would be cheating to say Recant marches to its own drummer. These guys do it their own nefarious way, plain and simple. Despite the naysayers, there is certainly an audience for Recant and that audience will be undoubtedly pleased by their experimental mayhem. Put into the context of performance art, Gesture succeeds admirably, assuming one has the disturbing images to correspond with this raucous, spiteful diversion from conventionality. The two media are chemically dependent upon one another. On its own, be prepared and forewarned...Gesture will seek out the inner reaches of your ear canal and shred it like grated cheese.
Post: Recant, 4070 Brant St., Apt. 2, San Diego, CA, 92103, USA