Of the myriad of cool bands and labels I’ve been exposed to since joining The Sleeping Shaman, one that has stood out for me is UK label Cardinal Fuzz. First, what a cool name for a label, second, the label’s off-the-radar approach to marketing and promotion in this day and age is commendable, and it adds to the mysteriousness of the label and the bands they put out. No official website, just their Bandcamp, BigCartel, Twitter and Facebook pages. Third, and most importantly, they put out cool shit. All the bands that I’ve had the opportunity to review have been cool, psychedelic, and lo-fi as fuck, again, adding to the label’s mystique for me.
Here, we have Supreme Asphalt Disasters, the latest record from prolific, French psych, garage, space, kraut rock and proto-punker GRegory Raimo and Gunslingers and the band’s first release since 2010’s Manifesto Zero. Evidently, this material was recorded to 4-track back in 2012 and I was vaguely familiar with Raimo, familiar enough I had heard/read about his work, in particular his ‘07 collaboration with late ‘60s garage and psych cult legend Michael Yonkers. However, this was my first sonic experience with his music, and I can say definitively that Raimo and his Gunslingers bandmates Matthieu Canaguier on ‘Thunderbass’ and Antoine Hadjioannou on ‘Prophetic Drums’ have found the perfect home on Cardinal Fuzz as well as Feeding Tube Records and Opaque Dynamo who are co-releasing Supreme Asphalt Disasters.
First of all, Supreme Asphalt Disasters is as blown out, distorted, lo-fi, and fucked up of a recording as I’ve heard in a long time, and I mean that in a positive way. In fact, it’s so blown-out, the instant aural comparison I have is to Mississippi hill country blues legend Junior Kimbrough’s lo-fi blues masterpiece Meet Me In The City. The fact this was recorded a decade ago on a four track, obviously adds to the blown-out sound, as Supreme Asphalt Disasters sonics are such that, at times, it’s both hard to tell where one song ends and one begins, mostly because of the trance-like lo-fi attack the record offers up. Take opener We’re The Real Sinners, a six-minute-plus up-tempo garage and psych freak out. Even with headphones on, Raimo’s vocals are so lo-fi I was hard pressed to understand a word he said, but it really didn’t matter as his guitar playing and Canaguier and Hadjioannou’s rhythms put the listener in a full-on psych and garage rock trance.
Next up is the title track, Supreme Asphalt Disasters, as Gunslingers switch up the tempo some, alternately slowing down, then letting it rip, and back again. Canaguier’s bass is the anchor on Supreme Asphalt Disasters, but not to be outdone, Raimo tears into some killer, distorted lead work as Gunslingers take all sorts twists and turns before weaving the song to its finale. Fierce By Contact sounds exactly like its title, with Raimo making all sorts of noise on his guitar as Canaguier and Hadjioannou’s rhythms sound like they’re about to careen off the tracks at any moment, only Raimo’s fucked-up, distorted guitar holding the madness together.
one of the weirdest, distorted, blown-out, heavy psych mind-fucks I have ever heard…
Detuned For Cheap is a rumbling, mostly instrumental, lo-fi face-melt as one can sort of hear Raimo’s mumbling/freakouts just above his massive, distorted, wall-of-sound shred fest. Gunslingers lock in as much as they can for a band sounding this manic and unhinged, and ride that shit to Detroit and back. As we wind our way through the wall of sound towards the end of the track, the listener is greeted with the unhinged, destrcucto, freak-out that is Sucked Into The Bottom, Gunslingers seemingly all playing different things through their distorted, blown-out, sound overload, and again, here, I’m feeling that Canaguier serves as the real hero, his bass giving me the impression he’s holding the entire thing together. Barely.
The penultimate track, Be-Bop-A-Lula-Louie-Loua, is a complete mind-fuck bash-fest that serves as an up-tempo appetizer for the clear-the-room closer Rebop From Arthur Lipsett’s Fluxes that’s the most unhinged, heavy psych, mind-fuck on an entire album full of them. Gunslingers repetitively beat you over the head, putting you in a trance, wondering if/when it will ever end, while simultaneously clearing the room. As I was absorbing this record for review, I played it multiple times while working, and the confusion/dread on some of my clients faces said it all. Gunslingers are relentless and as we close the album out, Rebop From Arthur Lipsett’s Fluxes is pounded into the listeners consciousness for a mind-warping nine-plus-minutes.
Gunslingers have dropped seriously one of the weirdest, distorted, blown-out, heavy psych mind-fucks I have ever heard. However, what makes this record for me is Gunslingers adherence, under the muck, to a full-on proto-punk, Detroit, garage aesthetic. A super cool record as Raimo and Gunslingers have quipped my curiosity enough for me to dive into his/their back catalog, but, if I’m being honest, I can only maintain my sanity for about the first five minutes of Rebop From Arthur Lipsett’s Fluxes. Supreme Asphalt Disasters, in all its blown-out glory, will fit in nicely with the rest of Cardinal Fuzz, Feeding Tube Records and Opaque Dynamo’s back catalogs.
Scribed by: Martin Williams