Ultraphallus ‘Sowberry Hagan’ CD 2011
Ultraphallus. Apparently named in homage to Michael Jackson’s father, Joe, these twisted Belgians are swimming in some seriously murky waters. Mixing up thick ‘n’ soupy Am-Rep-style noiserock, oddball Racebannon/Daughters-esque artcore thrust and plain ol’ fucked-up DIRGE, these sickos fit right in alongside the other demented fucks on Riot Season’s filthy roster – Todd and Shit & Shine in particular.
Low-end sturm and drang purveyors of the highest order, Ultraphallus mean to ride through town a-whompin’ and a-whuppin’ every livin’ thing to within an inch of its life, en route to raping the shit out of your ears later at the number 9 dance.
Lurching out of a haze of shrieking hiss, opening salvo ‘Pathological Freemind Verse’ comes on like a lo-fi take on Daughters, circa ‘Hell Songs’, playing during a particularly harrowing dental process…under a motorway flyover. Followup sucker-punch ‘Right Models’ is a tar-thick, glowering li’l rocker with an unpleasant guitar pile-up howl of a solo and rasping high-end vocals that put me strongly in mind of ‘Satan’s Kickin’ Yr Dick In’ era Racebannon. Fuckin’ good stuff, in other words.
‘River Jude’ is a hypno-distorto number that comes off like prime Melvins mugging The Jesus Lizard and driven by a bass undertow that thrums so deeply it could probably keep your bowel movements regular as clockwork.
Ultraphallus take things down a notch, aurally, but amp the creep factor up several notches for ‘Indians Love Rain’, a li’l ditty that wouldn’t be out of place on Swans monolithic ‘Cop’ record, or a Foetus live album…all low, rumbling bass, minimalistic tom thumping, sporadic needling guitar discord and sinister, sinister vocals. When it kicks in, we’re verging on brown note territory here kids.
‘Suspence BIRD/HUMAN’ channels Jim Foetus menacing ‘English Faggot’ monologue and places it over an amped-up churning cement mixer full of hi-hats, ‘Cinghiale’ is Keiji Haino attempting Beefheart’s ‘Hair Pie’ during a nuclear holocaust, and ‘The Crumbled’ is an honest-to-goodness good ole-fashioned banjo hoedown.
Yee, and indeed, HAW!
Melvins, circa ‘The Maggot’, rear their head again for the lumbering rock of ‘Golden Fame’, which leads into the short ‘n’ sweet ambient audio collage of ‘The Loss Of Their Teeth’, which, in turn, leads into the eight minute-plus Eugene S. Robinson-assisted creepfest of ‘The Red Print’. As you would expect from the presence of Mr. Robinson, ‘The Red Print’ is some dark ‘n’ murky shit, my friends, an oppressive bass loop atop which the sounds of various partially tuned radios appear to float in and out of focus around the crooning, wailing, cracked voice of the erstwhile Oxbow frontman and trouble-magnet. In the fade, a melancholy clarinet can be heard, as the ghost of a long-dead opera singer calls into the encroaching void. Crrrrrrrreepy.
So, the fat lady having sang, only ‘Torches Of Freedom’ remains to be heard – an ambient soundscape of collaged voices on the edge of hearing, timestretched churchbells and cascading swells of distortion. A strange, unsettling end to a strange, unsettling record.
‘Sowberry Hagan’ is yet another feather in the increasingly feathery cap of Riot Season, and Ultraphallus are most definitely one to keep a close eye on. There is a very real chance that after THIS monster, the next album could well prove fatal.
Label: Riot Season
Scribed by: Paul Robertson