Jan 21, 2009 Daytrotter Studio, Rock Island, IL

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Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry

Somehow, today became a day that started off with getting all emotional and choked up watching the inspiring images play on the television screen from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and turned into examining personal neurosis while burrowing into the sounds and anti-symmetry, anti-balance, anti-boredom of Suicide Squeeze recording artists sBach, the new side project of Hella's Spencer Seim. It's a relatively simple subject to get tripped up on when listening to anything that Seim puts his hands on or gives his hands or mouth permission to canoodle with. It's always an explosion of white light and reddish heat when Seim is arranging and orchestrating the proceedings, sending out reeling emotions and heavy-hitting abrasions, ones that lick powerlines and hang upside down, spilling money from pockets and drool from the sides of the mouth. All of the blood rushes to the brain and then it starts to hurt as if there's a scrambling device just chopping up sounds and ideas and keeping what it likes and fucking around with what it doesn't like, thereby finding a way to eventually like it and bring it in as a part of the gang. sBach is as wildly experimental as you'd hope any Seim project would be. It takes us out onto limbs and then starts jumping destructively up and down on the quickly weakening branches, getting them to severe off and send us hurtling toward an uncompromising ground, collecting dings and stars on other branches, all the way down to that sudden stopping. There are halting and roaring stretches of particles and patches of melody that give us a good indication that their music cannot stay on a flat stretch of road, a straight stretch of road or a bland stretch of road. Should there be a surface that is one or all of those qualities, they'd take out a backhoe and make some hills, dig out some rim-ruining potholes and throw up some stuff to look at outside the protective windows. The band, which released its debut full-length late last year, is a good combination of the last two bands that Seim's been a part of - the other besides the freakout-intensive Hella is The Advantage, a band that covered music from Nintendo gaming system games. It's riotous and off-the-chain psychotic at times, spewing out rattling beats and gristle, though it never allows itself to get hideous or abrasive, stringing us along, adding a flourish in the middle like a bulging rat or pig in the belly of a swallowing snake and then smoothing out the line as if taking a knife over the icing of a cake for an agreeable texture. It's a shipwreck and a brand new vessel morphing into the same view, a negative upon a negative. It's a coral reef or a cliff that's soft to the touch. It sounds as if there's an abundant clacking and clicking on and off of ideas that may or may not like to share their beds with one another, though they find that the shared body heat and the oddly compatible interests that are shared work themselves into a partnership that is befitting for a hemorrhaging brain, one that doesn't know when to stop itself and settle down. It's the one that keeps a person up all the live long day and all the sleep long night, working through all the jittery dementia that we get our feet wet on. It's a form of song that gives us moments to swing in and out of the crazy thoughts that are already situated up there as well as giving us new ones that are willing to make friends.

sBach MySpace Page

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