Monday, July 19, 2010

stencil #022 - salem

(really bad stencil outside Bose Hitek Audio Video, High Street, Thornbury)

Chicago/Michigan trio Salem, pioneers of ‘drag’, coined the neologism themselves to describe their (exquisitely) slowed down or ‘screwed’ music style.  'Drag' is a debated term (also referred to as ‘witch house’, ‘haunted house’, ‘screwgaze’ or ‘crunk shoegaze’) and describes a genre of dark electronic music featuring a prominent hip hop influence. A more admirable description of the band’s style is done by Scott Wright in his post about them in the Guardian. And read even more attempts to define the band's style here

Problems with genre aside, their dark, moody, melancholy electronic beats are devastatinglybut like their signature sound, it’s been a long drawn-out wait for any new material from the band. 

After reading an interview with band member John Holland in the December 2008/January2009 edition of Butt Magazine, I tried getting copies of their limited edition, four track EPs Yes, I Smoke Crack and Water but both had sold out immediately after being released. What else can one do in a situation like that but turn to downloading shared MP3s? Further digging yielded FuCKT, a 12-track file (Internet album?) also from 2008 (?) containing three of my favourite songs. They've been good company since then but I’ve been hanging out for some new music.

The protracted wait is overthey’re releasing their debut album King Night in September!

Favourite track(s):

"Hoodrych"strained, dissonant, eerily beautiful and agonisingly, almost intolerably, exquisite. A real dark pleasure. 

"Dirt" is a great track, too. The band filmed and directed their own video of it. The minute's silence that opens the video establishes the tension and shows a woman locking herself in a garage with the car still running. Carbon monoxide provides the smoky, soft focus effects while a gyrating, naked woman adds a soft porn element to a disquieting (definitely NSFW) video. 

And Heather Marlatt’s serenely eerie vocals on "BruStreet" (a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s "Streets of Philadelphia") are beautiful. 

I was bruised and battered and I couldn't tell
What I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window I didn't know
My own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me
Wasting away
On the streets

I walked the avenue till my legs felt like stone
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
Black and whispering as the rain
On the streets

Ain't no angel gonna greet me
It’s just you and I my friend
My clothes don't fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
Just to slip the skin

The night has fallen, I'm lying awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets 

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