Listen, I’m the first to admit that I’ve never got Shit and Shite, the now long running noise project from Craig Clouse. This really is not for the want of trying because I know people whose music taste I trust impeccably who rave about every release. Each time I dutifully listen and just don’t see what they are on about. I’ve never found anything that I can grab on to… nothing that has given me a way in.
That is, until now. Maybe I’ve changed, maybe Shit and Shine has moved towards me… it doesn’t really matter how or why but from the first listen of this album I get it, or at least my version of ‘it’. That’s not to say that this has been easy, but there was enough here for me to get a foothold into and explore from there.
So fans of Shit and Shine are going to have to excuse my ignorance when writing about this album, but really you know you’re going to love it. This is more aimed at those who, like me, have always found Shit and Shine to be difficult to the point of impenetrability. Firstly, you are not alone. Secondly, this might be the entrance to the cave that you have been looking for.
From opener ‘Bottle Brush’ this for me is an album that bristles with invention and the melding of genre in a way that is both effective and intense. The fucked-up jazz beat coupled with the spoken samples provides a stark narrative that feels both a sleazy apologetic for and indictment of life in the USA.
It is possibly the fact that this is such a low key way into this album that makes it feels more accessible. This is taken further with ‘Yeah! I’m On Acid’ with it’s massive phat techno beat and samples which weirdly remind me of early LCD Soundsystem… this is a track that really nails it for me and represents a coalescing of the Shit and Shine sound… as if the T-1000 Terminator had suddenly remembered to revert back into a recognisable shape. This is a track that I’m already playing on repeat and is already a regular in the fucked-up disco in my head.
With these two tracks in the bank I’m probably much more ready for something that I usually equate Shit and Shine with. Even then ‘Northwest Pool’ has a brilliant beat that goes in through your ears and seems to move your limbs at random. There’s a great drop half way through that is never going to be appearing at any regular club near you in a hurry, but I’d love to find the night where this would be on the playlist because I’m not getting out of there in a hurry.
After that ‘Mingler’ goes further into abstract territory, but now I’m finding that I’m looking for the connections rather than concentrating on the fragmentation within the music. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that maybe I haven’t listened to Shit and Shine in the right way before… I feel as if I’ve somehow found my way into it. Now I’m hearing the sounds as they bounce of the walls of the cave rather than standing outside and hearing the blurred sound from the outside. It’s a cave of the absurd… but it’s not the abstract sonic turmoil that I had previously heard… and actually how I heard this track the first time around.
I now feel ready for anything, but ‘7896’ takes me right back onto the dance floor. This is another really solid slab of massive and repetitive beats that double down on you as you listen to them. Again this is the ideal soundtrack for my idea of a totally leftfield night out, the sort of night when I come home exhausted and wondering why my whole body craves rest.
‘Backstage Passes!’ immediately feels more fragmented, a real anti-tune which seems to turn the notion of music inside out, while ‘Bad Vibes’ takes us further down this route drawing us deeper in to the abstract and unfamiliar. It is as if we are gradually being drawn into a nightmare realm in which the ephemera of everyday reality is being swept away. It is as if we were given the joy of coherent beats in order to soften us up for the levels of Dantean hell that we are now being dragged into… however you describe it there really are some ‘Bad Vibes’ going on here… a dark piece that is as affecting as it is bleak.
We are pulled out of this though with ‘Sunrise Sam’ which, while not actually upbeat, is nevertheless another, albeit brief, chunk of incongruous danceability that acts as a welcome salve to what has proceeded it. Which takes us to the final track, ‘At The Bar On The Rock’ which I am sure that if I listened to it in isolation I would be struggling to find a way in. Now I have heard the rest of the album, however, it has more context and I feel as if I get it. I get that, for me, this a is fantastic album of experimental music that is as fucked-up as you like, but in a way that I can really get into. This is an album that has me wondering what I’ve been missing for all this time… and, oh crap, there’s a lot to explore with Shit and Shine.
‘Bad Vibes’ is out now on Rocket Recordings.
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