Vampire Can't - Key Cutter Review
by Mark Hensch
Supergroups happen in every genre, even the obscure ones. So when I got a press release for this album by an entity calling itself 'Vampire Can't,' I was a bit sceptical. What is so special about this act? Actually reading the press release, it turns out that Vampire Can't is sort of like the supergroup to end all supergroups in the noise underground. A largely instrumental fusion of Jessica Rylan's alter-ego Can't with the noise-rock of Vampire Belt, Vampire Can't is actually an amazing place to start for people new to the noise genre as a whole.
To be perfectly honest, noise is a genre I have trouble appreciating or enjoying. Vampire Can't is special as they are actually a fairly enthralling band. On the thirty-three minutes that is Key Cutter, the band manages to combine droning guitar hums that shiver and sway with foreboding menace with buzzing analog and ponderous percussion. The end result is an odd, brief, and overall nightmarish jaunt through rugged soundscapes of jagged digital corruption.
Equally interesting is that Key Cutter actually balances a line between softer, more soothing moments as well as the more typical "sandpaper scrapes" you'd expect from a musical project of this nature. Rather than falling into the trap that is laid for them and the majority of the noise genre as a whole, Vampire Can't are also pretty proficient at crafting some semblance of song-structure and listeners will actually feel like their music is going somewhere linear; Hell, a person can even remember some of the music on here! It is a real rarity and one I'm chalking up to the Vampire Belt part of the equation; both members having played in their real band a sort of angular, super-loud rock combination of massive percussion and horribly distorted guitar skeletons. This focus on more traditional forms of music gives Vampire Can't a feeling of grounded sense; this isn't a noise project with guitar and drums, it is a guitar and drums project with lots of noise.
"Wax Lips" is a prime example, its hellacious grooves having barbed-wire analog squeaks ripped past them again and again. The skinswork is frantic and harried, sounding very spastic indeed. Follow-up "False Teeth" has some of the most memorable guitar riffs on the album, the likes of which are basically mauled by the helter-skelter drumming seconds later. As the disc progresses, moody interludes like "Five Eyes, "Soft Canary," and "Two Cheers" mix varying levels of noise from loud, obnoxious din to parking lot electricity hum. "Self-Titled Debutante" roars through a chaotic mish-mash of so many random textures it will make your head spin. The closing span of the album, with its double-KO of "Glass Lion" and "No Strings," is actually the best of the entire CD. First off, "Glass Lion" builds off electronic noise wankings and lazy video-game beeps, buzzes, and bloops, all before exploding into a furious communications breakdown of epic proportions. The gigantic "No Strings" meanwhile has chillingly soft noise meanderings and skittering, insectile hums; it will really unnerve you with a sense of vermin invasion. By the time you start to get really, truly creeped out, once again the band will blow out your speakers with a slow-burn of acidic, battery acid destruction and decay. At nearly eleven minutes long, this song takes up a third of the disc yet never seems boring or stale. It is always a plus when bands can bust out longer tracks like this while still maintaining my attention, so props for that.
In conclusion, Key Cutter is a surprisingly entertaining disc that balances utterly unlistenable noise with surprisingly free-form freak rock. At times as silent as a in-the-back knife-stabbing, at others louder than Y2k blowing up the known technosphere like it should have, Key Cutter is a curiously strange delight and worth checking out, especially if you haven't ever heard noise music or what it can do to you.
1. The Rat
2. Wax Lips
3. False Teeth
4. Soft Canary
5. Five Eyes
6. Self-Titled Debutante
7. Hand in a Box
8. Two Cheers
9. Glass Lion
10. No Strings
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Vampire Can't - Key Cutter
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