Alibi V.28 No.36 • Sept 5-11, 2019 

Sonic Reducer

Toll Booth Mustache A New Leaf (Self-released)

This is an experimental, sometimes exasperating album. But it’s listenable, much in the same way “Revolution 9” or Trout Mask Replica serve as departure points for a place so far from musical reason that the worlds that spawned them become art-damaged sonic fountains by default. Some of the musical choices and their spoken word derivatives seem purposefully exhausting, calling attention to the chaos that necessarily erupts from this world as it is created in toto by the artist responsible for sifting through all the noise and nonsense that, nonetheless, eventually forms something beautiful and anxiously foreboding. Examples of the cute quasi-cacophonous world spawned by the human who refers to themselves ubiquitously as Toll Booth Mustache include the dangerously addictive “Podcast,” the terminally intense “Where My Father Cries” and the end composition, “Clunch,” which certainly could induce insanity if played at certain volumes.

Howlcifer Jones Songs for the Strange (Self-released)

Experimental yet deeply, thoroughly melodic—with songwriting that climbs out of the attic like a heavily clad, moonlight-drenched ghost—a good descriptor for this album might reside or begin in words like expansive and faraway, brightly, deeply memetic and possessed of ideas that float on the periphery of understanding at the cusp of sleep. The second track, “She is Lightning” fairly rumbles and tumbles through time like a lost conversation. “You” is a subtle reminder of how the mind remembers snatches of melody and the echoes of voices that pass through experience. “Cove Prelude” moves back toward melodic and rhythmic balance before submerging beneath waves of low-end harmonics. The drums and piano in “What Made Me” seem to reference the sky and languid vocals become clouds in this wondrously executed recording that ends like thunder on edge of night with a tune called “Brave.”

Cactus Warmuth We Wasted John Wayne (Self-released)

Dang it, I shouldn’t have referenced Captain Beefheart so early in this set of reviews—all of which, this week, seem to trip trippingly on the fringe—but this here is the record that hits the mark for me for this week. Warmuth’s musings are deliberately opaque yet they appeal because the musical driving the force of discursive damnation on this must-have record is both sly and shockingly rocking. “Pineapple Grenade Blues” has a humming, wiry sort of dissembling discord going on, and it helps build a sense of gnawing uncertainty and triumphal chaos into the proceedings. When influenced by pop techniques, even obliquely, as with “Consider the Finger” or “Jake’s Nightcap,” Warmuth still has the tendency to beautifully destroy all that he encounters. The sense of beautiful timeless dissonance adds to an artistic statement that truly reflects what punk rock must be about, now and forever.