A Journal Of The Dark Arts
The hole that I came screaming out of was wet and dark, and I want to go back.
Do I ever fantasize about the violence of my youth?
I fantasize about going home.
– Excerpt from Gentrification: A Serial Album
Leo Ashline is a nasty piece of work. Or, rather, Street Sects‘ Gentrification serial album is. When we first met Street Sects, earlier this year, i described part 1 of the Gentrification series, The Night After We Raped Death, as “music for the pit, whether mosh or infernal,” going on to describe Street Sects as “Rough and tumble. Raw and real. Polished black metal cybergrind, shining like obsidian, pools of dark blood beneath the streetlights.”
Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings follows the same template as the Night After… 3 tracks of short, sharp, digitally enhanced grindcore. First time around i compared Street Sects to Canadian post-apocalyptics Skinny Puppy, the brash digital hardcore punk rock of Mindless Self Indulgence, with the noisy abrasion of Death Grips. All of these comparisons stand, although Street Sects are in no way as fun as MSI. Sickly detuned vocals, meet spastic and intricate beats, courtesy of Shaun Ringsmuth, the evil music genius behind Street Sects, who creates a dense wall of chop ‘n paste glitch dada spew, white noise and air raid sirens, that sets yr little mouse nervous system into a panic. Where’s the hawk? Where’s the owl? It is a fine, corrupt setting for Ashline’s tales of self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, angst, ennui, boredom, and psychosis.
Along with the digital download, (which will be transferred to vinyl at some point), comes a short and brutal story, straight from a teenager’s id. It tells the story of the narrator’s first encounters with sex, via a mother who is less than wholesome. It bends and warps the narrator’s sex drive, fusing it with violence and confusion. The story should be regarded as a Trigger Warning, in the extreme, involving sexual abuse, pig masks, and sweaty tank tops.
All in all, Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings could be seen as Charles Bukowski penning lyrics for James Plotkin‘s Old Lady Driver (OLD) project. Speaking of James Plotkin, he mastered Broken Windows, which as any fan of heavy music will know, is synonymous with unrelenting brutality.
That is what is so striking about Street Sects – how well planned and well executed it is. This is pure primal fury, about some of the darkest stuff that life has to offer, but expertly mastered, and packaged in slick, sharp, and clean graphic design. This is no GG Allin, spraying gray matter all over record grooves. Rather, this is thought out, planned and schemed to the utmost. Even the format of a “serial album” requires foresight, follow-through, and careful planning.
This mixture of violence, darkness, and careful planning, is noteworthy. This is not the work of some street thug. More like the work of some criminal mastermind, an evil genius. It’s a good thing that Leo Ashline has a creative outlet.
And that’s the heart of the matter, for all of us who walk in the dark side. We do not turn away from unpleasantness. We are forced to look at it. For anyone with an interest in horror movies, pulp novels, who spends any time in the subculture underworld, we are confronted with violence and nastiness constantly. It’s just as much of a danger to repress that stuff, as it is to act on every impulse.
Easily 80% of the people i know are fucked up and crazy beyond life. We’d probably all be dangerous, if not for art.
My own life, and nearly every person i know and especially the ladies, has been decimated by sexual abuse. My own introduction to the world of sex was less than wholesome, and i’ve had to actively work, nearly every day for the last 23 years, to not be fucked up, jaded, skewed, or bitter. It’s a major trigger for me, that sets my teeth on edge, and curls my fingers into fists (hard to type that way). Does that mean i think people shouldn’t talk about this stuff? Absolutely not. If anything, i get the feeling that Street Sects are using the fuel of VERY EXTREME IMAGERY to portray their anger at the status quo, using it as a commentary on gentrification, and the increasing power of the system. Much like David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet, Street Sects are here to remind you, it’s not as wholesome as it seems.
So A+ for musical quality and delivery, and any fan of extreme angry music will flip shit over Broken Windows, Sunken Ceilings. And much like any other grind-related activity, you can’t understand many of the vocals, anyway, as they’re delivered in a hoarse strangulated gargle, and you’d never know the concept, just by listening, although the feelings come across. Those that are easily offended should stay the hell away from Street Sects, however, (and you probably won’t like a lot of what else i have to say), so consider yrself forewarned.