July 17, 2013

Scab Queen: Brags/Bodies

Independent Release

Existing in a grey area of drone, post-industrial and electro-acoustic murk, local outsider Michael Lauden records darkly compelling sounds as Scab Queen. Since the project's inception in May 2012, Lauden has quietly released a string of bleak drones and processed tones, culminating in Brags and Bodies, two curt digital releases recently made available via Bandcamp.

Brags, comprised of a single 24-minute track, is a black-metal symphony of industrial clatter and doom-affected pacing. Featuring guest vocals by Leo Ashline, the piece shifts in and out of genre, direction and delirium at any given moment until roughly the midpoint, when everything dissolves into a blur of sustained aural abuse.

Bodies, released two weeks ago, streamlines the long-form hysteria of Brags and distills the hauntological visions down to five brief yet brutally vaporous transmissions. The title track sets the mood with an ethereal mix of sound collage, meandering guitar improvisation and hallucinatory effects, sounding like if DJ Screw and Philip Jeck collaborated on a remix of Candlebox's "Far Behind." The tune resembles a hallucination or a misremembering of an experience rather than a concrete scene.

"Bird (A)" and "Bird (B)" pick up the cleansed palette as a starting point for even deeper drifts; the echoing, folding drones resemble the work of Jacob Kirkegaard and the Touch Records canon of dark, droning ephemera. The suite ends with "Wind Torn (A)" and "Wind Torn (B)," two extended moments of brightness and looped beauty. Lauden's vocals make a sudden cameo as well, burrowing out a peaceful space rather than distracting from the bigger picture. 3 out of 5/4 out of 5.