Empire strikes...again

The Wax Tablet
By PORTLAND PHOENIX MUSIC STAFF  |  July 31, 2014

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BRAINTHIEF EP by Bullet Man

>>  EMPIRE seems to have really turned some corner with their music schedule, settling in this month as a venue you could see 3-4 reliably unique shows per week, plus a Clash. We’re particularly stoked about the announcement of an appearance by Alvarius B., the alien-blues guitarist better known as Alan Bishop from the Sun City Girls, scheduled for Aug 18 with avant-folk local legends BIG BLOOD. But our excitement extends beyond one mere show: Reports from their Penthouse dance party (every last Friday) get more glowing by the month; there’s early buzz about a bizarre new comedy/variety show hosted by PORTLAND COMEDY CO-OP (every second Monday); and it seems to be gaining favor with Maine’s more adventurous groups lately, with shows by SEA LEVEL, PURSE, WESLEY ALLEN HARTLEY, IMMENSE PORPOISE, PARANOID SOCIAL CLUB, ENDLESS JAGS, METAL FEATHERS, VIDEO NASTIES, and several more all clustered in the span of a month. Visit portlandempire.com for the full scoop. 
>>  Lovely, lovely slice of digital noise drudged up by some artist around here going by BULLET MAN (an alias within a collective in Tremont who go by the Scum of the Earth Cru—in other words, we have no idea.). Built entirely from samples (credited only as the “original recording artists”), this five-song EP Brainthief is at turns harsh, hypnotic, and out-of-left-field gorgeous, a real parfait of the incalculable twists, turns, and textures that make up the life experience. On opener “Alchemy,” squint and you’ll feel the pressure of a gentle, magelike hand manipulating the mixer knobs as it swirls samples of a breathless vocal hook into swooshing tornados of noise. Track four, “Tired,” is the gem, a fugue of gently strummed guitars and clacking percussion—so many of them—artfully arranged and poised straight for the heart. Even “Again,” a sort of fulfillment of the harsh noise label promised on the tag, is melodically pleasing, spinning distant samples of what sound like toughguy hardcore breakdowns into swells of rich ambient noise. Tempted to invoke early Fennesz; either way we’re happy to learn this mystery meat exists. Visit scumkutz.bandcamp.com.

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