The inclemency inherent to the whip of experimental, atonal and beyond art hardcore-tinged noise rock music of the late 80’s was entirely a feat of dissatisfied punks across the United States who’d been promised revolution and instead entered their late twenties a shill for a lifestyle that’d never planned on existing. It was the right kind of drinking aged free-for-all as the disingenuous sold out, the intrepid went metal, and the disaffected went head-on Fugazi. It’d add up to a healthy lump of coast-to-coast alternative rock music in the long run as generations cycled like rabbits and it’d all end up a pretty under-mined wealth of brutally honest junkie hell, space-faring dissonance, and absurdist existential dread ’til these last couple generations began scouring the internet for the old ways. I’m not saying noise rock ever ‘died’ or that post-hardcore revivalists stumbled upon it out of necessity but todays finer bands in either sub-genre healthily purge the early 90’s of each finessed peak; Case in point being the experimental noise rock/post-hardcore expanse of Berlin, Germany based Colored Moth who are as much in tune with Albini-esque early 90’s noise rock as they are Unwound on this their third full-length since forming in 2013. ‘DIM’ is not only an exploration of tightly wound noise rock piledrivers and flatly whipped post-hardcore/screamo affect but it also offers a deep examination of the sociological implications of technology en masse and our unsure place today in the larger history of humanity.
If an earnest cross-sectioning of social ethics and a broader perspective focused upon the lives of the many (rather than the needs of the individual) sounds belabored I’d suggest the bigger picture is perfectly elucidated by the band on their Bandcamp page: “Browsing through history reveals at least one thing: Progress is not linear. It is always hindered by regression. In addition, progress for one side at a given time does not mean that it exists at the same time for the other side.” This itself speaks to the binary reality that we all live under despite how chaotic the interconnection of technology appears. The key point I couldn’t escape from any angle was this thought that the machine exists and it’ll lurch on despite the actions of its burning cogs, a perfect metaphor for the ‘punk gone anti-rock’ reality of the late 80’s and early 90’s I’d referred to before. This jagged form of rock music where unpredictable tangents and storms of frustration seem implacable is the exact right vessel for the compression of the spirit who could only know freedom within ideas; In this sense ‘Dim’ itself refers to what many see as today’s darkest age of regression in recent history.
If you’re not all that interested in the lyrical themes of ‘Dim’ they’re not particularly obtuse. The great strength of Colored Moth is surely taste and the currency that comes from pulling from a class group of influences. A spacious and crisp drum recording anchors their sound beautifully and when combined with some of their guitar feedback driven pieces it surely gives a brief hint of ‘In Utero’-era Albini (see: “Del”) throughout. Otherwise you’ll surely pick up on the edges of recent Quicksand and Cherubs releases juxtaposed up against breathy Unwound-esque space rock-isms and bursts of USA Nails styled perpetual motion pacing. I don’t know squat about screamo so I’d only remark that whatever elements persist align well with the edgier style of post-hardcore these guys bring to the table. Four of the thirteen tracks here (“C”, “A”, “L”, and “M”) aren’t proper songs but rather bouts of atmospheric sounds, experimental noise, and instrumental interludes which all space out the intensity of ‘Dim’ into a more thoughtful and balanced listen than I find within most modern noise rock-adjacent experiences today. It provides a ‘loud quiet loud’ effect without interrupting the thread with a ballad or gooey pop song for the sake of variation.
As much as I’d enjoyed this album, having placed it near the middle of my ‘best of August’ list it is surely front-loaded with bigger hits. The first six tracks are enormous, hulking wrecks of banging post-hardcore with a ear-shredding noise rock approach and the second half of the album runs a bit thin by comparison. The palm-muted razors in the middle of “Whataboutism”, the grinding dissonance unto the second half of “Cognitive Bias”and the grunge-punked kick of “Del” offer this potent coagulation of interest that becomes hard not to focus on. I’d probably have tossed “Maelstrom” towards the end of the album, just to keep the 35 minutes brisk and moving between both aspects of Colored Moth‘s self-described ‘ambient punk music’. Though I didn’t enjoy the layout design of the LP and I felt the tracklist could use just a brief reshuffling to steady the full listen ‘Dim’ does warrant some special attention for the modern noise rock/post-hardcore fandom. Moderately high recommendation. For preview purposes I’d suggest starting with combo of “C” and “Whataboutism” for a punch of their intellect, atmosphere, and incredibly lucid production values.
Astonished by distinct tongues. 4.0/5.0
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