Crucifixion would at least incite a sympathetic response from a certain percentage of the crowd, perhaps even driving them into the arms of their savior. Staupenschlag in public for petty crime probably inspired more crowd-obscured erections than it did strike fear of criminality upon those inclined. No manner of cruel physical torture in a public setting could possibly compete with the brutal mental bolt-gun of shame in an otherwise safe situation. Pillories surely didn’t treat alcoholism, no more than Twitter cancellation might’ve, and that’d be for the error of not matching the public shaming of the individual to their most sacred actions. You’ve got to know your demographic, torturer. The finest example of this is the well documented efficacy of “the flute of shame“, a device specifically reserved for bad musicians. A shackle for the neck welded to an iron flute with the hands locked in place on the keyholes might seem to disregard a public reaction entirely, honing directly onto the insecurities of the artist; This is perhaps the only way to permanently warp the individual, demolishing the feigned and/or carefully mustered confidence it takes to perform in public. What can a society that’d disallow shame via cyber mob do to reduce the irreverence of the irascible and unshakable bastions of nowadays noise rock? An inherently absurdist reaction to punk rock tameness cannot know shame, it has been a thankless chore reserved for freaks and for decades. By simply admitting that it is good music, enjoying it and thriving within the maturing art-punk fineries of the sub-culture a certain level of subversive popularity will inevitably self-shame ’til death. It worked for hippies and disco, anyhow. In this war against raw, emotional defiance and shameless acts of anti-rock musicianship we can consider German noise rock trio Trigger Cut a rising kingpin of skronking post-punk past, a retro-but-not-shit noise rock clangor that yarns its way back to the wild Midwest and shouts in a sort of insider language that only the keenest ear might receive and cherish. ‘ROGO‘ is their second offense, the sort of album we’d burn like books in a town square for its heretical nonsense before spanking a few criminal butts bloody with canes. I’ve no idea how this freak rock shit is even legal anymore, and I’m not sure any manner of violent zealotry could stop it.
After four years of well remembered work in Buzz Rodeo from 2014-2018 two-thirds of that line-up would split to form Trigger Cut with drummer Sascha Saygin (The Automatics, Majmoon) taking clear and well-stated influence from late 80’s/early 90’s noise rock, classic post-punk and no wave. Their first album (‘Buster‘, 2019) aimed squarely for the hits we all associate with Touch n’ Go Records and Amphetamine Reptile among other important post-hardcore and noise punk labels that’d been underground zero for free-wheeling, intricate new forms. I’d discovered ‘Buster’ later in the year and included it in my 20 Underground Noise Rock Albums You Missed in 2019 column noting their exciting, sharply produced sound and reverence for some of my favorites, The Jesus Lizard, Laughing Hyenas and Shellac. Inspired by widespread acclaim, encouraging sales and general reverence from the world over Trigger Cut went into 2020 ready to rock another 90’s noise rock lovin’ heavy (uh, an album) eventually swapping in drummer Mat Dumil and plugging on. It goes without saying they’d had to deal with/wait for the ongoing global pandemic in the meantime, no chance of touring reasonably complicates the notion of recouping an independent release. ‘ROGO’ naturally bears the brunt of world disorder and turmoil, a reaction wearing a frenzied emotionally chaotic mask even more imposing than noise rock/post-punk street-sweeper records typically is. Frazzled and impassioned in equal measure, ‘ROGO’ reacts rather than elucidates pouring out the pressure upon a swollen skull in the form of inventive post-punk edged noise rock.
The boxy shadowplay of early Shellac, the kinetic dread of ‘Solid Gold’-era Gang of Four, the alt-clunk of Cows and the warbling semi-melodic collapse of Drive Like Jehu gets us most of the way there as the major traits of Trigger Cut begin to define and refine themselves on this sophomore album but the ultimate decider lands us equal distance from pre-’94 The Jesus Lizard and the boppin’ and screamin’ post-hardcore shove of modern acts such as USA Nails — A willingness to bask in tradition one moment and balk at it the next in presentation of freshly elaborate ideas. Back in 2019 my general thoughts on ‘Buster’ suggested “The bass could be uglier, the vocalist could lose his mind a bit earlier…” and these issues I’d taken then no longer apply, though I would not say the bass performances are ‘ugly’ so much as they maintain a bulbous, full presence throughout the album. This aspect of their sound should appeal to folks who’re familiar with Steve Albini‘s early output as well as Fugazi‘s most celebrated records. Serving early 90’s noise rock feeling without needing to commit fully allows Trigger Cut their own voice, which does admittedly land squarely where their influences -should- conceivably take them. In this sense ‘ROGO’ is pure comfort in terms of its sound design, recorded on a simple analog machine and mastered by the maestro Carl Saff into a harsh and often satisfyingly groove-ridden full listen. “Solid State” makes cryptic plea for firmament, opening with a bass driven and hook-filthy piece that sets the general momentum of the first few songs on record. “Coffin Digger” quickly plugs up the momentum as its play with repetition, ringing noise and language feels like an obstruction to start, stuttering vocals and collapsing movements warrant a closer listen for theme when placed with such importance and the result is somewhat overtly complex in a section usually reserved for an easy ‘single’ on your average rock record. “Transmitter” is that moment, fashionably late to the party but a deserving muse piece to return to when considering the greater character of Trigger Cut mid-‘ROGO’, exasperated and parsing their next several steps with great consideration. The collapse and reprisal around the 2:50 minute mark is the first of many moments that elevate the experience beyond the usual funk bump n’ grinding noisy post-hardcore shout fest that noise rock can be in the wrong hands; Wriggling guitar tone, wrangling riff and its echo within the enormous bass guitar sound driving the moment would prove strong enough in statement to pull me in for the long haul.
“Hooray Hooray” finds a zipline between the scrawling tonality of ‘Entertainment!’ and the post-hardcore it’d inspired by proxy, sliding into its chamber as one of the more brooding moments of release on ‘ROGO’; The song itself has its revelatory moment but still appears in service of building tension before “Fireworks” moves in as another unexpected standout on the full listen. Post-punk influenced guitar work becomes more of a focus on my part as the second half of the album manifests, increasingly distraught and prone to the “quiet, loud, stop, quiet loud, loud” movements a lot of modern noise rock pulls from their early 90’s influences via osmosis. As was the case with ‘Buster’, Side B has a few pieces I’d never connected with (“Way Down the Border”, “Regular Funk”) yet the final moments of ‘ROGO’ ultimately redeem this lull in interest. The pensive yet celebratory gunk of “Nutcracker” is perfectly placed near the end of the running order, sounding extra sour before “Yesss Brother!” leaves things square. The urge beyond that point was to hit repeat and figure out just exactly how long this thing could play before I start to sweat and toss my cans on the floor and yeah, for a noise rock album I’d never really reach the point of offended headache I kinda strive for. Though it might seem like Trigger Cut are exclusively playing to the crowd with a nostalgic sound they’ve done a fine job of personalizing every statement, leading with taste first and then inserting themselves into every moment. After a certain number of spins through it, ‘ROGO’ was speaking to me as an product of an overwhelmed mind in the moment, a cathartic yet earnest stumble through dystopic projections… Some of which’d make perfect sense no matter the angle I’d approach with and others that seemed to result from jamming, an well developed instrumental intimacy that creates clever sonic details out of thing air which one could look back upon and say hey, whatever that was it was worth repeating. A high recommendation, thus far one of scant few noise rock highlights for 2021.
|RELEASE DATE:||February 5th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
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