Lowercase


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

All Destructive Urges , 6.5/10
Kill The Lights , 7/10
The Going Away Present , 6/10
Alaska: Emotions , 6/10
Imaad Wasif: Imaad Wasif (2006), 6/10
Imaad Wasif: Strange Hexes (2008), 6/10
Imaad Wasif: Voidist (2009), 6/10
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Lowercase is a guitar-drums duo (Imaad Wasif and Brian Girgus) from San Francisco (via Palm Desert) that plays a weird hybrid of lo-fi pop, post-rock and slo-core, a veritable summa of 1990s alternative rock dialects. They debuted with three singles that established a credible record of heavy albeit minimal noise-rock: Sometimes I Feel Like A Vampire (Punk In My Vitamins, 1995), Brass Tacks (X-Mas Records, 1995), and Cadence (Amphetamine Reptile USA, 1995).
The album All Destructive Urges (Amphetamine Reptiles, 1996) expanded their sound towards more dramatic forms of expression. Occasionally, the duo enters a catchy melody, but As Your Mouth is pop that ends in terrified screaming, and Earth Minus One is pop depressed by suicidal agony. Their normal mood is one of extreme passion and emotion, like in the discordant, unstable Palace Vaccine, like the incendiary atmosphere of Ringbleeder, like the frantic bacchanal of Sometimes I Feel Like A Vampire. The Faded Line swings from tormented quiet to clinical paroxysm, as if Bedhead jammed with Jesus Lizard. The nine-minute psychodrama Because I Can owes to Slint's convoluted harmonies as well as to Built To Spill's free-form counterpoint: the music ebbs and flows, punctuated by a depressed slow-motion raga-like guitar line and disrupted by sudden bursts of grief. As in the best tradition of progressive hardcore, the (horrible) vocals, the (distorted) riffs and the (pounding) beats are artsy as well as demented. The resulting sound is a contrast of extremes.

A bass player guests on Kill The Lights (Amphetamine Reptiles, 1997), but only She Takes Me and Stairways, the two most aggressive songs, benefit (atmospherically speaking) from the addition. She Takes Me is like a Rolling Stones song (say, Street Fighting Men) that focuses only on the terrifying groove and reduces the melody to a Nirvana-esque lament/howl. Stairways is a two-minute instrumental that builds up a dissonant maelstrom, a sort of "the Sonic Youth meet the King Crimson".
The rest is a descent into a personal hell. The eight-minute Slightly Dazed is virtually a documentary of a man losing his mind, the guitar repeating an ominous pattern over a funereal beat until it becomes a death toll (the overall feeling being similar to Pink Floyd's early psychodramas). Neurasthenia is even less musical, and, by making the most of the least, paints a harrowing picture of claustrophobia and desperation. The lengthy instrumental overture of the nine-minute Rare Anger returns to the Pink Floyd-ian suspense, with an additional dose of guitar noise and dejected melodies, and this time the screaming reaches an apocalyptic intensity.
On the other hand, the heaviness of the 12-minute nightmare You're A King owes a lot to the Melvins. For several minutes a slow, hypnotic dirge digs deep into the soul. Then the vocalist intones a dilated melody that sounds like a Navajo psalm over martial drums.

The single Imbedded on Ice (Punk In My Vitamins, 1998) heralds a more austere phase, that dawns with the hypnotic, droning tracks of The Going Away Present (Punk In My Vitamins, 1999). Lowercase (the founding duo with yet another bassist) borrows stylistic elements from early Sonic Youth and early Swans to concoct dark, menacing, desperate pieces (The Going Away Present, Floodlit, Glisten to the Pink). The new self-indulgent tour de force is the 12-minute This Train Will Not Stop.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Claudio Vespignani)

Lowercase e’ un duo chitarra-batteria di San Francisco (via Palm Desert) che suona uno strano ibrido di pop lo-fi, post-rock e slo-core, un’autentico riassunto dei linguaggi del rock alternativo degli anni 90. Debuttarono con tre singoli che costituirono un credibile documento di pesante noise-rock, seppur minimale: Sometimes I feel like a vampire (Punk in my Vitamins 1995), Brass tacks (X-Mas Records 1995) e Cadence (Amphetamine Reptile 1995). L’album All destructive urges (Amphetamine Reptile 1996) estende il loro programma di ricerca al contrappunto free-form dei Built to Spill, alle armonie contorte degli Slint e alle melodie al rallentatore dei Bedhead (Because I can, Earth minus one). Le parti vocali (orribili), i riff (distorti) e le ritmiche (pestate) sono demenziali anche se possiedono velleita’ artistiche. Il suono finale che ne deriva e’ un contrasto di eccessi.

Su Kill the lights (Amphetamine Reptile 1997) compare un bassista, anche se solo su She takes me e Stairways, i due brani piu’ aggressivi. Il resto e’ una discesa in un inferno personale. La pesantezza dell’incubo di 12 minuti di You’re a king deve molto ai Melvins. L’umore del disco e’ meglio rappresentato dalla claustrofobica e disperata Neurasthenia.

Il singolo Imbedded on ice (Punk in my Vitamins 1998) annuncia una fase piu’ austera, che ha inizio con gli ipnotici, ronzanti brani di The going away present (Punk in my Vitamins 1999). I Lowercase (il duo fondatore con un nuovo bassista) prendono in prestito elementi stilistici dai primi Sonic Youth e dai primi Swans pre creare pezzi oscuri, disperati, minacciosi (The going away present, Floodlit, Glisten to the pink). Il nuovo tour de force autoindulgente e’ This train will not stop, della durata di 12 minuti.

After Lowercase dissolved, Imaad Wasif formed Alaska with another drummer, Russ Pollard of Sebadoh. Emotions (B-Girl, 2003) is not all that different from Lowercase, but showcases the most intimate side of the singer, a sort of Jonathan Richman for the new century.

Brian Gurgis recorded solo as Si Claro.

Imaad Wasif's first solo album, Imaad Wasif (2006), was a calvary of gloomy slocore. Imaad Wasif then joined forces with Two Part Beast for the more musical Strange Hexes (2008), containing Wanderlusting.

Wasif's Voidist (Tee Pee, 2009) was a lushly arranged version of his twisted pop art.

Stephen McBean of Black Mountain and Imaad Wasif of Lowercase formed Grim Tower and released the freak-folk album Anarchic Breezes (Outer Battery, 2013).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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