Bad Paintings (label)
07 December 2018 (released)
07 December 2018
As if excavated from the vaults of Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland’s 2012 giallo-chiller) American-Italian experimentalists XXL (a high-brow hybrid of US alt-gardeners Xiu Xiu and Italian post-rockers Larsen) go big, they go large, they go epic on this beguiling LP.
Named for a mystical and mythical folkloric cross-bred entity, overall it’s like an aural Brothers Grimm tale or a sonic H.P. Lovecraftian novella, its literary linearity compels and demands a connected listening, fragmented cherry-picking will not do it justice. Cries of desperation and lies of exasperation are spoken, sung, squeezed, said and unsaid, a haunting sheen hangs heavy like ‘Arry Redknapp’s eyelids after listening to one of his own anecdotes. T’riffic.
Commencing with ‘Intro’, a creepy-crawling chamber-pop snapshot of beginnings and openings it ushers in ‘Ghost Maid’, that channels Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, painting a spectral vision of past/present and future, a narrated tale replete with echoed wailings.
‘Interlude’ is a self-explanatory auditory, a page-turning segue into ‘Carissimo’ (Dearest) which poses the conundrum, is the price to much to pay or is the cost more than monetary? What price love/life anyway? Crunching electrosonics grind and wind and weave and deceive, posting an anti-love letter to A.N. Other.
What appears at first to be garbled gibberish threads through ‘To Carol Rama’, a ticking Clockwork Orange horrorshow, a first person witness account of the space that surrounds: ‘this room is amazing, nothing that a few coats of white paint couldn’t fix’, however, this ain’t no whitewash, more a welcome to hell party in the padded white room, a self-cell of internal hell.
‘Polar Bear Boogie Part I and II’ are a Popul Vuh/Amon Duul soundscape of no escape. Spartan and sparse ambience that conjures unwanted demons and brings on the terror-sweats. ‘Welcome to my Planet’ evokes John Barry communing with Martians. ‘Lemoning’ is a percussive jazz-space-rock sojourn.
The stand out is ‘Queen of Koalas’, a schizophonic pulse-racer that builds to fuzz-rock taking in a head-spinning, ear-winning East, West, North and South sound palate.
If sound is a painting then ‘Puff O'Gigio’ is Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘The Last Judgement’, that biblical paradise-ing with death where one false bite spells doom.