This has been a terrific year so far for Rocket Recordings. Anyone who caught my review of the new Gnod triple album a few weeks back knows that massive sound slab was one of my favorites of the year. However at this point 54 Synth-Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral by Shit and Shine, which was released about a month earlier, has crept in and supplanted it as the label’s crowning jewel so far in 2015.
Shit and Shine is the brainchild of Craig Clouse, a Texan living in London. Over the course of a dozen albums the project has taken liberally from all over the musical spectrum. Elements of Can, Hawkwind, Butthole Surfers, the Melvins, Suicide, Chrome, Neu!, even Aphex Twin and classic b-boy electro are torn apart, soaked in lysergic acid and thrown it into their repetitive kraut-noise-dance-rock stew.
Since their last album Powder Horn, which was released on techno wizard Powell’s Diagonal imprint, the more dance-inspired elements have been increasingly prevalent. The songs are leaner than on early recordings, less a sprawling mess and more a carefully-burnished, curated sort of weirdness. “C2-6,” the album’s second track, features a rhythm and vocal that sound like Kraftwerk’s “Europe Endless” as heard during a DMT trip. “Love Your Hair – Hope You Win” begins with some funky-ass breakbeats before slowly devolving into a sort of minimal, broken techno dirge.
With 54 Synth-Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral, Shit and Shine have delivered an album that brings levity, wit, and fun to a very psychedelic, noise-drenched experimental aesthetic. That alone is worth celebrating. It’s a subersive and playful recontextualizing of so many different musical tropes and influences that it actually comes across as unlike anything but kind of like everything. Dig it!
54 Synth-Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral is available now on black-and-blue spattered vinyl from Rocket Recordings.