Daily Dose: Water Damage, “Reel E”

Music Features Water Damage
Daily Dose: Water Damage, “Reel E”

Who wants to get beaten up at the Dream House? Austin band Water Damage takes the droning minimalism of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela and turns it into a kind of violence—them fighting their instruments, their instruments fighting the sounds being wrestled out of them, and those sounds, in turn, fighting us, the listener, pummeling us with the band’s self-described defining features of noise and repetition. It’s like showing up at Young and Zazeela’s music and light installation only to get mugged by the entire Theatre of Eternal Music. It fucking rocks.

This is the sound of 10 or so musicians locking in on a heady drone, turning up the amps until everything’s pitched at a deafening roar, and trying to overpower each other over the course of an entire reel. Multiple drums and basses, fuzzed out organ and bowed guitar, and a shrieking violin (or viola?) lumber and squeal for 20 minutes, exploring the possibilities of doing one thing very loudly. It takes a remarkable amount of restraint to play the same thing for so long, and it’s especially impressive that Water Damage can channel that kind of restraint while fully unleashing themselves upon their instruments.

There’s a solid history of gonzo rock bands playing the music of (or alongside) minimalist composers like Terry Riley, Tony Conrad, and Steve Reich. Unlike Faust and Acid Mother’s Temple, though, Water Damage has so far focused entirely on that one thing, smartly and methodically bashing through their own original drone compositions. It’s not really off-base to compare something like “Reel E” to the minimalist experiments from Faust or Acid Mother’s Temple, but it also might give the wrong impression. For those bands this kind of stuff was an occasional compliment to the maximalist noise and rock they typically made. Water Damage are no dilettantes, though. The group exists to powerfully contemplate a single note or chord for long periods of time, and that’s about as noble of a goal as I can think of. “Reel E” is one of four pieces on the double album set In E, which comes out on 12XU on April 12.

Listen to “Reel E” below.

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