Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Piss Vortex - Piss Vortex (2014)
Jazz and grindcore have made surprisingly frequent acquaintances over the years. The complicated, semi-improvisational traits that comprise certain fields of the former combine well with the chaotic, balls-to-the-wall aggression so synonymous with the latter. This unlikely amalgam normally manifests itself in, quite frankly, barely comprehensible bedlam; flurries of sweeps, song structures that break the laws of music, and everything else besides. While this can be performed to a fantastic level (and indeed has been), it can also come across as a mere technical exercise, eschewing any attempt to connect with the listener to make room for auditory masturbation. However, as the saying goes there is more than one way to skin a cat, and indeed there is more than one way of combining jazzy elements into grindcore. Copenhagen-based quartet Piss Vortex take a more coherent approach that focuses more on intelligent song structuring than flawless technicality.
Coherent, it should be stressed, does not mean that Piss Vortex are any less virtuosic than their contemporaries; the difference lies in the application of their music talents. Drummer Niclas Sauffaus offers up the most obviously impressive performance, with machine-gun kit rolls and intricate cymbal work underpinning the winding interplay of guitarist Christian Bonnesen and bass player Rasmus Moesby. While throughout his playing is stellar and consistent, on 'Beaten Womb' he goes as far to actually forming the skeleton of the entire track by the means of a 20 second solo at the start, which provides an infectious groove alongside the grimy riffing. While some tracks inevitably do fade into obscurity when considering the album as a whole, the appreciation for exciting, constantly shifting trackwriting means that there's plenty new to pick up on listen after listen.
Importantly though, despite all of their compositional ability, the resulting feeling after closer 'Our Maker's Invisible Hand' reaches its apocalyptic climax is one of pure, battered awe. Piss Vortex make use of a guitar tone as grim as their name would suggest in conjunction with nightmarish riffs and Sauffaus' terrific drumming to yield an experience not a hundred miles away from a more hardcore-influenced Gorguts. Additionally, a sludgy bass presence and vocalist Simon Stenbæk's mid-ranged roar contribute towards the doomier aesthetics on the slower tracks, and this adds a whole new dimension away from the fast-paced, aggressive riffs that savage much of the running time.
Rather than opt for a well-trodden style consisting of lightning-fast scales and start-stop song structures, Piss Vortex takes on a more controlled character that focuses more of the swing and feel of jazz than the technical elements, while still retaining the ability to leave the audience with the sensation of being hit in the face with a spade. By opting for a slightly more accessible vein this escapes much of the initial mindscrewing associated with the subgenre, but it arguably makes for a debut that only gets more intriguing with each listen.