Shit and Shine

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use)
You're Lucky To Have Friends Like Us (2004), 7/10
Ladybird (2005), 8/10
Toilet Door Tits (2006), 7/10 (mini)
Jealous of Shit and Shine (2006), 7.5/10
Cunts With Roses (2007), 7/10
Cherry (2008), 6.5/10
Küss Mich, Meine Liebe (2008), 7/10 (anthology)
229-2299 Girls Against Shit (2009), 7/10
Le Grand Larance Prix (2011) , 6/10
Jream Baby Jream (2012), 6/10
Powder Horn (2014), 5/10
Everybody's A Fuckin Expert (2015), 4/10
54 Synth-Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral (2015), 5/10
Chakin' (2015), 4/10
Teardrops (2016), 6.5/10 (mini)
Some People Really Know How To Live (2017), 6.5/10
Total $hit (2017), 6/10
That's Enough (Rocket, 2017), 5.5/10
Hamburger (Gang Of Ducks, 2017), 5/10 (mini)
Very High (2018), 5/10 (mini)
Bad Vibes (2018), 4.5/10
No No No No (2019), 4/10
Doing Drugs Selling Drugs (2019), 4.5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Shit and Shine is a London-based group formed by both British and US musicians, notably Craig Clouse, who played guitar in Texas with Crown Roast, a hardcore band that released only A Nose Has Many Jobs (Unclean, 1994) and then in London in metal band Todd that released three albums: Purity Pledge (Southern, 2004), Comes To Your House (Southern, 2005), and Big Ripper (Riot Season, 2009).

Its typical line-up has multipled drummers and guitarists, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Crash Worship and other percussive-oriented post-psychedelic bands.

The limited-edition LP You're Lucky To Have Friends Like Us (Riot Season, 2004) concocted a seriously damaged nuclear fusion of garage-rock and heavy-metal music.

Ladybird (Latitudes, 2005) contained one 42-minute improvisation that defined their aesthetic at the border between the Velvet Underground's Sister Ray and a horde of headhunters. Other than a volcanic distortion, and vocals that occasionally swim through the intense heat, for more than half an hour there is only the incessant pounding of the drums. Then the noises become more prominent, threatening to derail the ceremony. Minimal and maximal at the same time, this suite is to psychedelic music what Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music was to progressive-rock: an abominable terminal point.

The (inferior) mini-album Toilet Door Tits/ The Biggest Cock In Christendom (Conspiracy, 2006) contained two lengthy tracks of the Ladybird kind. The 16-minute Biggest Cock In The Christendom is a concerto for looping beat and sound effects. The 15-minute Toilet Door Tits is another case of explosive distorted epileptic hyperdrumming dementia.

The double-CD Jealous of Shit and Shine (Riot Season, 2006) was slightly more focused on the music rather than the emotional impact. The result was another colossal nightmare, the 30-minute Practicing To Be A Doctor. This time the guitar distortion towers over the tribal beat, radiating a calm ferocity, and the vocals are to be heard only in the background, like ghosts from a distant hell. The similarity with the Velvet Underground's Sister Ray is much stronger. After 15 minutes a short pause lets the guitar downshift gear: it resumes as a mere counterpoint to the drums, while industrial noises invade the stage, and the voices join in a feeble choir.
By comparison, the massive distortion of Here Come The Vikings, the industrial chaos of When Extreme Dogs Go Wrong, the wall of noise of Unchained Ladies Shopper, the ghostly beats and alien voices of There Are Two Bakers Now, the electronic poem Hot Vodka, the electrical effervescence of Kitten Mask are merely snippets of a much bigger expressionist drama that remains shrouded in mystery. There is music for exactly one minute and 39 seconds: the ironic surf instrumental Seeing Life Through A Young Mans Eyes.
The second disc contained a revised version of You're Lucky To Have Friends Like Us.

Cunts With Roses (Noisestar Music, 2007) documents the first ever live improvisation by the band. It did not have any of the "subleties" of the third album, but it had the same visceral impact. In fact, it had only that: a colossal riff amid colossal drumming.

The single Cigarette Sequence (Skulltone, 2008) is an apocalyptic piece for multiple drummers and multiple bass players and multiple electronic noise makers.

Cherry (Riot Season, 2008) roamed wildly different territories, from the usual tribal drumming (ever less frequent) to dance-music. Despite the confusion, the class was still there: the sonata for epic swelling guitar distortion Cherry, the industrial-metal pounding cacophony of Cigarette Sequence, the avant-rock instrumental of the Neu! and Faust kind Charm And Counter Charm, the massive droning doom nightmare of the 15-minute High Brooms (probably the album's standout). The ambitious crescendo peaks with a pounding chaotic 20-minute psychedelic freak-out, The Rabbit Song, although not their best. Unfortunately, too much is just gratuitous fluff, barely-sketched fragments, and really bad ideas. Overall, the album sounded less spontaneous, more fragmented and certainly less original.

Küss Mich, Meine Liebe (Load, 2008) collects the two pieces of Toilet Door Tits/The Biggest Cock In Christendom and adds the ten-minute spoken-word kammerspiel Preventions Arise, the madly drilling drone of The Germans Call It A Swimming Head, the take-no-prisoners tribal bacchanal Küss Mich, Meine Liebe, and the heavily syncopated dub dance The Side Of The Road.

229-2299 Girls Against Shit (Riot Season, 2009) was more psychological and grotesque than beastly, with a surface that harked back to Red Crayola and the Butthole Surfers but also a core that resembled an alien organism grown inside an unsuspecting animal. Their subhuman tribal art yields two new peaks of musical savagery: the dense and manic nine-minute onslaught of Have You Really Thought About Your Presentation?, and the apocalyptic avalanche of distorted guitars and frenzied drums of the eleven-minute Roberts Church Problems. On a smaller scale an equal fervor of psychotic contradictions is achieved in the chaotic android orgy of 20 Years of Caring for the Nations Eyes, in the epileptic hardcore of Pissing on a Shed, in the random acrobatic cacophony of Kolchak The Night Stalker, in the hellish turbulence of Hotel Denmark, and in the tribal dadaism of USA Mexico.
The distorted industrial-dub ballet Penthouse Is A Must is already from another planet, where violence is not the motive but the effect. The hypnotic pulsation of Friseur Nelson battles alienating electronic distortions, each one pulling the piece towards opposite meanings.
The ten-minute Girls Against Shit creates tension without any need for extreme sounds, but instead by constructing and setting in motion a discrete soundscape of tidal Hendrix-ian glissandoes and brief electronic emissions that is suddenly devastated by a horde of metal machines.
Their name was still the same, but their music had become a lot more sophisticated, incorporating ideas, techniques and stereotypes of a whole range of genres and schools.

The six side-long jams of the triple-LP Le Grand Larance Prix (Rock Is Hell, 2011) constitute an ambitious if superficial take on minimalist repetition. Flirtations At A Cocktail Party provides the link with the band's orgiastic sound, while the slow-motion Frankies Theme is its antithesis. The dadaistic collage of Switching 2 Nite Mode and the acid freakout of Klipp provide the counterpart to the glitchy dance jam How To Rattle A White Tailed Buck and to the lo-fi disco of Frenchys Automotive.

Jream Baby Jream (Riot Season, 2012) expanded on that concept, again leaving behind the percussive bacchanals of the early albums. It also continued to investigate the possibility of an electronic dance music that confounds dancers (Dinner With My Girlfriend and especially Rodeo Girls) and even attempted a lo-fi ballad from another dimension, Jream Baby Jream.

Craig Clouse converted progressively to the dancefloor on the five-song EP Find Out What Happens When People Start Being Polite For A Fucking Change (Gangsigns, 2013), which contains the funk-jazz jam Panther Piss and other funky instrumentals, and on the six-song EP Tropical (Gangsigns, 2014), that aped the dance-pop style of the 1980s, and finally to a sophisticated form of android funk on the album Powder Horn (Diagonal, 2014) via the industrial psychedelic vignette Astro's Hat, the retro-futuristic lounge ballad Who's Your Waitress and purely rhythmic experiments such as Pearl Drop. Everybody's A Fuckin Expert (Editions Mego, 2015) had too much filler next to the syncopated cacophony of Signal Failure and the rhythmic novelties Upside Down Cheeseburger and Picnic Table.

54 Synth-Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral (Rocket, 2015) fares a little better, although its lengthy pieces don't achieve much more than repeating simple ideas. There are three ten-minute pieces: the acid tribal dance Electric Pony 2, C2-6, a sort of sonata for electric shortcircuits over a mechanical drumming pattern, and Egg MM - Muffin_Pimp Different, the most elaborate and convoluted. Generally more effective are the shorter pieces: the lively noise-funk jam Love Your Hair and the liquid, jazzy Writing Poetry On Your Forehead With The Tip Of A Hunting Knife.

Suddenly Clouse decided to record an album of improvised jazz jams, Chakin' (Astral Spirits, 2015), mostly recorded live in the studio, featuring bassist Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (The Thing, Atomic, Icepick), vocalist Pete Simonelli, drummer King Coffey (Butthole Surfers) and keyboardist Nate Cross. The 17-minute Denim Do's And Don'ts is a spoken-word piece with discreet accompaniment by the (under-utilized) combo.

The 25-minute mini-album Teardrops (Riot Season, 2016), instead, marks a return to the golden days of at least 229-2299 Girls Against Shit: a dozen brief eruptions of epileptic and noisy industrial-metal that mix Ministry, the Butthole Surfers and Napalm Death. Schecter Omen Extreme 6 (which also comes with a Schecter Omen Extreme 6 Reverse), Kramer Baretta, and especially BC Rich Celtic Virgo (with relentless disturbing screams) are blasts of abrasive noise and pummeling grindcore. The slower, magniloquent Aria Pro 2 ZZ Deluxe is the album's tribute to doom-metal.

The EP Good White Good Green (Heated Heads, 2016) announced a new phase with the alien disco music of Good White Good Green and the digital cubism of Penalty Fare.

Then Clouse (obviously a musical polymath) crafted a purely electronic album, Some People Really Know How To Live (Editions Mego, 2017), of avantgarde dance-music in glacial glitch-scapes. Part of it feels like extraterrestrial hip-hop (Dish 2 Dish), replete with old-fashioned rapping and scratching (Lil Wannabe Gangsta). The music implodes in subliminal minimal techno (South Padre Low Life), assembles cubistic polyrhythms (Notified), indulges in bouncing African syncopation (Girl Close Your Eyes), and sinks with underwater musique concrete (The Crocodile).

Total $hit (Diagonal, 2017) returned to the dancefloor with the techno locomotive defaced by a loud distortion Chklt Shk and the sampledelic funk jam Dodge Pot while crafting witty futuristic vignettes such as the industrial alien ballet I Hate This Fucking Machine and the zombie tribal dance of Hot Shovel. It sounds like the lightweight version of Some People Really Know How To Live.

That's Enough (Rocket, 2017) continues to mine the same territory of digital dance music with the 19-minute juggernaut That's Enough that repeats relentlessly the same ugly beat and derails it with various forms of dissonance. Harsher sounds are found in the ten-minute I Like You Betty, while The Worst is a tedious nine-minute spoken-word piece. But it's all very repetitive.

The mini-album Hamburger (Gang Of Ducks, 2017) has eight more of these digital plunderphonic glitch-techno experiments, this time all of them brief, notably the cartoonish percussive vignette Angelforce00 and the spectral and quasi jazz 4no.

The highlight of the mini-album Very High (2018) is the 12-minute mid-tempo funk-soul Afro-pop chant and Funkadelic-esque jam You Were Very High, where the electronic arrangements are still creative enough, next to two lengthy lounge ballads, where the electronic arrangements are as trivial as possible.

By the time the album Bad Vibes (Rocket, 2018) came out, Clouse's dance-music had mostly lost any sinister or avantgarde quality. The album seems to be a sort of tribute to James Brown and to drug culture, notably with Yeah I'm On Acid, and to the the acid house movement, notably with 7896. The only noisy piece, Bad Vibes, has the right intuition for a psychedelic industrial jam but doesn't find a way to develop it. The other pieces, especially the ones using samples, are neither original nor entertaining, just tedious and predictable.

The sounds are more rarified on No No No No (OOH-sounds, 2019), but that makes the dance even less exciting. Among the pieces for the dancefloor, Tecvo Ooh boasts the most inventive rhythm, whereas the sinister, dilated, musique concrete of 3axa3 stands out among the more abstract pieces.

Doing Drugs Selling Drugs (Riot Season, 2019) too have very few tracks of interest, but at least it's getting out of the disco swamp: the distorted industrial metal of Salty Tomato and the stoned doom-metal of Hammerlock Through Shattering Glass. Kentucky Cellphone stands out for distortion, effects and rhythmic experiment.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use)
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