Dance The Mutation is a monthly column from Ears to Feed contributor Jesse Locke, highlighting the most exciting new music releases and archival reissues that come across his radar. Dance the Mutation was formerly a radio show on KPISS FM, and before that it was a song by Simply Saucer, the band that Jesse wrote an entire book about.
Tim Kinsella and Jenny Pulse – “Blindfold” (Total Music)
This month’s column begins with a video premiere from Tim Kinsella and Jenny Pulse. The married couple formerly known as Good Fuck take a Desperate Bicycles approach to DIY, transparently sharing their $150 budget. By pointing three cameras at performance artist Brian Saner, a sparsely populated parking lot becomes the stage for his torso twisting interpretive movements. Fans of Kinsella’s bands Joan of Arc, Cap’n Jazz, or Owls will recognize his voice immediately as he strains against a backdrop of grinding riffs and shuddering electronics. “Blindfold” is the first taste of the duo’s upcoming Gimme Altamont EP and the Giddy Skelter LP that will follow later this year. I’m sensing a theme here.
Chronophage – Chronophage (PPM / Bruit Direct Disques)
Chronophage recorded their third self-titled LP at a studio once used by Sublime, honing the hooks and assured arrangements that were always there under the surface of their ramshackle, noisy pop. There’s still a noticeable difference between the tunes sung by guitarist Parker Allen – oscillating between Cleaners From Venus-style post-punk and moody singer-songwriter fare – and those led by bassist Sarah Beames, which pop out like a skronky Belle and Sebastian or a mellowed out Bif Naked. The Austin quartet went for broke with this one, and the proof is in the pudding. Every song is an alternate universe hit.
Anteloper – Pink Dolphins (International Anthem)
For their latest album as Anteloper, trumpeter jaimie branch and drummer Jason Nazary linked up with Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker to sift through hours of improvised jams. After assembling a short, looping beat from the session that became “Earthlings,” the trio created a grooving jazz/electronic music hybrid featuring branch singing with a stonerish hip-hop flow. Pink Dolphins is bookended by two distinct songs that show off the versatility of Anteloper’s approach. From the blown-out squelch of opener “Inia” to the shimmering ambience of 15-minute closer “One Living Genus,” it feels like they’ve travelled a vast distance to arrive at the pink gates of Atlantis.
Nick Sheppard and Marigold Sun – Pratunam (Hush Hush)
Who could have guessed that Nick Sheppard – The Clash’s Cut The Crap era guitarist who replaced Mick Jones – would deliver an EP of blissful Durutti Column meets Dire Straits ambient pop nearly 40 years later? Collaborating with Singaporean-Australian musician Marigold Sun, the Perth-based first waver drizzles bluesy, improvised solos over Balearic beats and sun-warped synths. Five songs in, Sheppard’s voice pops up unexpectedly as he reminisces about a trip to the Bangkok neighbourhood that provided the EP’s name, sounding almost as weary and leering as Jarvis Cocker. This is what happens when punks go on vacation.
Editrix – Editrix II: Editrix Goes To Hell (Exploding In Sound)
Editrix’s shredding noise-rock with sing-songy vocals has always reminded me of People, the early aughts duo of guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Kevin Shea. I rarely hear that band mentioned in 2022, but it’s nice to see the Massachusetts trio picking up the baton. On their second album, guitarist/vocalist Wendy Eisenberg, bassist Steve Cameron, and drummer Josh Daniel (also of the excellent Landowner) expand upon the “avant butt-rock” of their debut with deadpan lyrics on humorous topics like horse girls and queering ska. “One Truck Gone” has a Deerhoofian swagger, while the title track sounds like a pop song by DNA. Fun!
Prince Nifty – Interplanetary Machines (Second Spring)
Prince Nifty’s new album would be a beautiful listen without any context, but once you know the story, it becomes even more moving. After years of touring, the Toronto musician known for his production work with Lido Pimienta and remixes for Caribou began to lose his voice. As he worked to re-train himself, Prince Nifty began instinctively singing along to the drone of tinnitus in his ears. This sound became the starting point for a series of haunting choral pieces with lyrics repurposed from the text of patients describing their dreams to Carl Jung. Interplanetary Machines is unlike anything Prince Nifty has released before, floating in space with solemn stillness and otherworldly intonation.
Anthony Moore – Flying Doesn’t Help (Drag City)
British musician Anthony Moore is best known for his work with record nerd bands such as Slapp Happy and Henry Cow. His glammy late ’70s solo albums reissued by Drag City sound straightforward by comparison, but there are still plenty of surprising choices like the blown out organ solo that appears midway through “Useless Moments” or the sputtering electronic intro of “Just Us.” Everyone knows that Brian Eno added his “synthesizers and treatments” to Roxy Music’s first two records before leaving the band. What this album presupposes is… maybe Anthony Moore picked up where they left off?
Say Sue Me – The Last One Left (Damnably)
I’m a month late to Say Sue Me’s wonderful new album, but why should that be a reason to overlook it? In their 10th year as a band, the indie-pop quartet from Busan, South Korea have shaved off some of the fuzzier edges of their sound and returned with a featherlight collection of mid-tempo strummers. They switch up the formula on the perky “Around You” or the relatively rocking “No Real Place”, and close the album with the brass-boosted love song “George & Janice,” written as a wedding present for the owners of their label. A decade in, Say Sue Me are still evolving, yet their sentimental songwriting remains unmatched.
Fresh Pepper – Fresh Pepper (Telephone Explosion)
Toronto folk singer Andre Ethier and saxophonist Joseph Shabason come together for this eccentric concept album about their experiences as musicians moonlighting in restaurant jobs. Singing in his languid baritone, Ethier’s lyrics include gently insightful observations about flies landing on a clock or new ways of chopping onions, while Shabason drapes his vocals in velvety pop-jazz arrangements. The album also features three marquee guests: Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Bernice’s Robin Dann, and Dan Bejar taking lead on the standout “Seahorse Tranquilizer.” There’s a bit of a disconnect between the goofy album cover and press photos featuring the musicians in aprons, because the songs they create together are pure smooth bliss. Working in a kitchen has rarely sounded this romantic.
Derek Bailey – Domestic Jungle (scatter)
Derek Bailey’s jungle album feels like it shouldn’t exist. Improvising to frantic beats from Birmingham DJ Ninj, the free-improv heavyweight shreds all over 1996’s Guitar, Drums ‘n’ Bass, released by John Zorn’s Avant Records. This month, Scottish label scatter archive unearthed an earlier recording of Bailey playing along to junglist radio broadcasts before recording the proper album. Released as a “pay what you can afford” download on Bandcamp, Domestic Jungle is a consistently thrilling listen with two unexpected soundworlds colliding. As Bailey explained in a later interview, “I’ve always liked the parts where the music stops and drifts along – you get some ridiculous string orchestra, then it just slips a bit, the pitch goes or they slow it down or something. Then the drums come back – it’s completely meaningless! I like that…”