Sly & The Family Drone
Walk It Dry
Love Love Records
It didn’t take long for these cheeky upstarts calling themselves Sly & The Family Drone to nab a following. The legend of punishing live shows where bits of drum-kit ended up all over the place and audience members were dragged in as ad-hoc percussionists meant that the band’s barely controlled chaos was something special – and different – each time. Lightning Bolt – with tribal-stomp.
The Family Drone, slyly, featured three drummers that tinkered with electronics – that’s it. Just drums and processed cassette tapes (putting the hiss in histrionics eh!) But they’ve recently added a sax player and now it’s gone full-noise fuck-off. Exhilarating, ruckus-jazz. This is Tom Waits’ workout music. This is Albert Ayler and Aphex Twin finally getting to jam. This is Fela Kuti remixed for industrial music fans. This is one hell of a noise.
Walk It Dry is not here to fuck spiders. It’s barely here at all. In just over half an hour these pulverising eight ‘songs’ – probably better to just call them stomps – have all the woozy swagger (Bulgarian Steel), agitated jazz for the apocalypse (A Black Uniformed Strutting Animal) basement-dwelling web-surf rock (Dead Cat Chaos Magician) and harrowing majesty of Toodle-Oo death-march swing (My Torso Is A Shotgun) you never knew you needed.
The longest piece here – Sunken Disorderly – is a slow-building drone of honking sax against the clatter of so many cymbals. It’s six minutes of brilliantly eerie score for a film no one will ever make. Clattering horror you can almost smell as it bubbles away. The shortest track is the sub two-minute Swearing On The Horns, a sort of demented instrumental hip-hop groove where the rhythm is driven by a saxophone that wishes it was a didgeridoo as swirls of freak-noise threaten to drown it out.
But Shrieking Grief is the one for me. It’s like Buzz Melvin teamed up with Bill Pullman’s sax-wielding character from the movie Lost Highway. Mike Patton wishes he was deep inside this.
Sly & The Family Drone is the heaviest of metal – made of course by jazz-heads and electro-cats. Made of course by humans giving themselves over to their instruments and throwing all caution to whatever wind.
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