City of Straw works less like a conventional album of songs and more like a portal torn into this esteemed NYC-based experimental trio’s ominous world of heavy industrial noise that stays open for just 40 minutes. Some entries focus more on the noise — the entire rhythm track of “Tar and Pine” is pieced out of hissing bits of distortion and bursts of static.
Elsewhere, the band’s hardcore leanings are more evident, as in the surrealistic thrash of “Jabber Queens,” where vocals are delivered in a backwards cadence atop a loping, disconnected bass. The nine-minute title track is the main scene here: circuits short against the sound of reverb so wet that you wonder whether you mightn’t get zapped for listening too closely.
Grinding, guttural waves of splintered guitars swerve and stammer like a drunk weaving through traffic — if not for singer Mark Morgan’s laconic, drawling talk-singing, there might not be many familiar signposts at all. City of Straw is a scary trip for sure — and one that forges its assault with a white noise so shrill that it almost gets the ear through sheer bone conduction. Yet for the lover of noise, the absence of pretty moments might just be the right prescription.