Written by: Sage
02 Corn Circles
03 Hunter’s Orange
04 Faux Squirrels
05 Patch’s Circle
06 Night Wayferer
07 The Woodline
Count Beetle is the project of two low-key individuals in Count Teddy Horse and Count Wynston whom seem to take pride in putting just enough information online to keep you interested. The band seems to liken themself to Splinterskin which, honestly, isn’t a half-bad comparison granted their sound is influenced by their southern geographical location (Burrowsville, AR) in comparison to their Northern counterpart (Oregon, OH, near Toledo). Ironically their small label SinJin Records is located in Oregon, OH, and, to put it bluntly, that would be a pretty big coincidence if Mr. Splinterskin himself isn’t the owner or at least involved in that label. Count Beetle’s “Clairaudience” is SinJin record’s first, and to date, only available release.
Much like the aforementioned Splinterskin, Count Beetle has a lo-fi, minimalist dark folk appeal that not only crosses into but barrels headlong into the strange and odd. Lyrics seem to be based around dark storytelling with a humorous or trollish twist, a point of view that Loki himself may claim to be proud of. Many will probably find Count Beetle hard to get used to at first or in the beginning find the opinion that the band lacks talent on a musicianship or production front, but it seems to strictly be a matter of atmosphere as opposed to lack of skill much like misunderstood black metal artists like Ensepulchered. As mentioned before, the artists’ Southern tendencies really seem to come out through guitar strum and structure as well as the masked voice. You get the impression at times of the worst-case scenario between The Hills have Eyes and Deliverance. Count Teddy isn’t cannibalistic (at least from what we know) and he’s not a hilljack waiting on unsuspecting kayakers either. The music just comes across as old and certainly a bit mad. And this is perhaps where the music derails a little bit. Where Splinterskin managed to keep up an air of mystery and surreal lyricism, Count Beetle sometimes come of as cartoony. During Faux Squirrels I actually got the image in my head of an old bald man with one bugged out eyeball strangling a squirrel in one hand and holding a shotgun in another. And its strange because its the mixture of the two that bring this out. Just listening to the music without trying to understand the lyrics increases that experimental and mystical awareness that Splinterskin had, and without the music, just reading the lyrics, they can get downright disturbing.
This is a project that is loaded to the brim with potential but is still young and has to find a way to make their music come together better. There’s still something missing within its depths that pulls the listener in. I can hear it in moments with Patch’s Circle. I can hear it in the rhythmic lulling repitition of Corn Circles. I can hear it in the entirety of “The Woodline” with its brilliant lyricism. They have all these beautiful parts of an image waiting to be made and its as if the glue they’re using to hold it all together just isn’t working. However, that’s the great thing about new bands. When you feel there’s room for improvement with their initial release, they’ll surprise you more often than not the second time around.
Clairaudience comes as a CD-R and insert in a jewel case, wrapped in what looks like home-made rope though it could just be the wear on it. Included is a lyrics sheet with album information. When I opened the package I got a big whiff of incense or herbs of some sort but it doesn’t seem to stick with the CD for long.