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Uniform – Ghosthouse

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These are dark times we’re living in. Fearful, uncertain and violent times. No one knows exactly what’s on the horizon but rest assured, we’ll be feeling the shockwaves of what happened last Tuesday for years to come.

What music has been getting you through this past week? Have you been throwing on sunny pop tunes to give you some measure of hope? Or have you been diving head-first into the fire by subjecting yourself to harsher, angrier and more atonal sounds? Either approach is valid. Everyone copes in their own way. Everyone readies themselves for battle in their own way.

Uniform is a noisy industrial duo, composed of Ben Greenberg (The Men) and Michael Berdan (Drunkdriver). Their new EP Ghosthouse (Sacred Bones) appears, at first glance, to be something the latter class of listener would be drawn to: the kind who deals with pain by listening to harsh noises as a means of catharsis.

The opening title track of this EP greets you with a brutal, minimalist assault of guitar and drum machine. As it proceeds, however, you realize that it’s not pure chaos: there’s structure here– verses, choruses, and hooks. That structure is just hard to detect because it’s buried underneath layers of industrial noise. As the ceaseless repetition of “Ghosthouse” drives forward, you’ll start to notice chiming, beautiful overtones arising out of the grime. It’s hypnotic, ecstatic, rising up transcendently while simultaneously descending downward into hell.

The next track, “Waiting Period,” is slower and more menacing, with none of the uplifting overtones of the opener. Cold synths, pained vocals and distant police sirens set the mood, while a punishing drum machine drives it home rhythmically. It’s more industrial than metal, but fans of bleak doom like Khanate would definitely get down with it. “Waiting Period” is a pure black hole from which light cannot escape.

“Symptom of the Universe,” the last track on this short EP, has the most traditional form: structurally, it’s more or less a riff-driven thrash metal song, but the gurgling synth noises that pulsate throughout keep it fresh and original, even fun. It could almost be an outtake from the Butthole Surfers’ Independent Worm Saloon. During the fadeout– the highlight of the EP– they turn the drum machine up to 10,000 BPM as the guitar loops and shreds kaleidoscopically. The result is mind-blowing.

If you need something dark– but flecked with tiny glimmers of hope– to get you through these miserable days, Ghosthouse might be for you.

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