It’s one of the more admirable simplistic rules that we all try to live by, and one that we all seem to learn from our parents or other such respective guardians as we quickly grow into adults: don’t judge a book by its cover. Equally, it’s something that we seem to forget in the moments in which we should know better. This very notion came up roughly a month ago when I had the rare chance to meet up with one of our writers as he passed through Cincinnati on a short-leg tour with his wife. We met up at a local coffeehouse in downtown Cincinnati before embarking to Rake’s End for his show, and I took the moment to pass him some music that had been received for review. Among that large stack of items resided two LP’s from a relatively unknown local label in Savage Quality Records: Modra‘s The Line for the Men’s Room, and Teen Anal Terrorist‘s Warm Blatz for Teenage Runaways. While Modra quickly crept into his pile, upon seeing the secondary LP, he proclaimed “Teen Anal Terrorist! I think I’ll be passing on that one.”, to which we all chuckled as, who could blame him? The name was indeed atrocious if not absurd, and paired with the Xeroxed QR Code city skyline, the record reeked of the most offensive, amateur noise that the underground has to offer (and that we’ve unfortunately seen far too large a share of in recent years. See: Filthy Turd)
Indeed, I slunk back in my chair, horrified by the notion that I would now have to write this record up myself. While Modra’s album would go on to become a hidden noise rock gem for him, what neither of us saw in Teen Anal Terrorist at the time was a subtle dedication to the late Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson on the small A5-sized insert; something that may have hinted at a wider understanding than what we were too short-sighted to see in that moment. In the end, it turns out that Savage Quality, the tiny Columbus-based label whom have hardly offered but a whisper of existence to the rest of the underground, has managed to release two amazing gems that are destined for obscurity. While The Line for the Men’s Room heralded nostalgic visions of Philly’s Slitbreeze Records for him, with Warm Blatz for Teenage Runaways, I’m sent spiraling into the world of dirty, glitchy rhythmic industrial where projects like Coil, Black Sun Productions, early Skinny Puppy and Lacunae meet the atmospheric emotive qualities of Tympanik Audio newcomers such as Tapage and Stendeck or the industrial eccentricities of Ô Paradis. It’s a rare sound, and one that I’m more than ecstatic to find here.
The overall equation is a simple one, but the complexity of the glitch elements cannot be denied on Warm Blatz…. This isn’t a release where much stays the same for long — indeed, loops appear to be reprocessed and given new life at every turn, with meticulous detail paid towards keeping the numerous layers of subtle rhythms evolving at all times. It is all at once chaotic and yet precisely measured between every collision of abstract sounds, filthy beats and distorted samples that evaporate into the background and somehow give the release an urban impression — fragmented memories of alleyways and tag-laden corridors, violence washed away like dust and blood on concrete, fractured pieces of metal, paper and bone. And yet, the overall atmosphere on the record isn’t quite as dark as these impressions may hint at. Through much of the album, there is a constant warmth hidden behind the chaotic dance of electronic experimentalism — a warmth that is presented through simple droning synth textures that gently dull the raw edge that is otherwise consistently present. Even playfully melodic bells a la synthetic glockenspiel make an appearance late in the record, heralding the coming of twilight on the horizon, with only the strongest stars shining through the city lights to guide the weary midnight nomads.
I’m both excited and humbled by the fact that I nearly missed out on Warm Blatz for Teenage Runaways now that I find myself blown away by its intricacies, even more so knowing that this is something that came from a local artist. Ultimately, it’s hard to find anything at all negative to say about the album, though I’ve never been a fan of leaving everything up to the imagination. With no known members, no back story, no track titles, and very little imagery, it’s hard to apply imagination to the music that seems to have so much purpose lurking underneath of its countless pulses — something that plagues many new promising acts in the genre including the likes of Future Blondes. The QR-Code enhancement seems to hint at a vague social debate, perhaps attempting to say that everything is a product, or that the whole world has been broken down into the path of consumerism — a fact of life in the modern era when even genetics are being patented by industry. Here’s hope for the future, that whomever is behind the music in Teen Anal Terrorist make themselves known, and get some much-deserved attention from far beyond Ohio.
8 Untitled Tracks.