Pre-Order: We ship w/c 5 Octoner
Black Mold and Hot Springs, Taipei by (Z)erpents (Future Proof, Taiwen)
12" black vinyl with back and front cover art. 100 worldwide
This is a soundtrack; close your eyes - you can see the film. While the camera strains, image wobbling, making the most of a lack of light, there are riots in the streets; armored vehicles blasting water cannons; a teenager in a bandana kicks a tear gas canister back toward the line of cops. Natural disasters; a wall of water washing cars from the street; half-finished skyscrapers collapse; cracks opening in the earth’s surface.
Like a soundtrack, you can feel the music abruptly shifting from one scene to another, unheralded, uncued, shifting direction like a school of fish or a mob of protestors. At first it’s just the drums spattering rapidly forward, traditional snares and kicks alongside muted dull cymbals and rattling pans and trash can lids. Then a raucous, enraged saxophone, maddened beyond belief and REFUSING to shut up, suddenly appears running alongside the drums. Rhythmically, the two are locked, though they still both feel like they’re being played while falling down a long flight of stairs.
When it’s just the drums and the sax, angry beyond reason, there’s still a very tangible emptiness, a space within the sound. And when (Z)erpents want to fill that space, they do – with big fudgy slices of guitar. What the guitar has in common with the drums and the sax is an element of relentlessness, although this is expressed as long cloudy drones rather than furious action. It’s a threatening undertone like a dark cloud that refuses to break into unavoidable rain
But it gives the sax another outlet for its anger. There are so many voices speaking through that instrument, it suggests a bullhorn being handed from a street preacher to a demagogue. At the end of “Liminal Triad,” the drummer is hammering out something like a break-beat behind the distorted guitar drone, and in the last thirty seconds, the saxophone turns into a traditional Taiwanese funeral reed, a death horn, overblown with impossible syllables. In the next track, “Micro-incisions in the old push pull,” the drums are clattering through the kitchen at a breakneck pace, when the sax opens up with an undulating call, a primal howl like an alien animal. These musicians know how dangerous their instruments can be, which is why they only use them sparingly. The poisonous, murky guitar tones that appear in “Micro-incisions” must be driving the Geiger counter mad
Speed. Violence. Unpredictability, even the second time you hear a piece. (Z)erpents’ music erases itself the moment it’s past, like a license plate avoiding capture by a surveillance camera. Like the work of John Zorn or Melt Banana, one gets the sense even from this most abstract composition that the world that the artists are seeing is bad and they don’t like it. Even if black mold grows naturally, it still gets into your lungs. Even if the earth’s heart gently warms the radioactive waters of the hot spring, you’ll still burn. The natural world and the human world of state-sponsored violence are both totally ignorant of the beings that live in them.
(Z)erpents end everything with “Flotation Divides.” At the seventh minute, the guitar is chiming like cherubs in a cathedral. At the thirteenth music, the tone is no longer human. We’ve reached anarcho-primitivism. At the twentieth minute – well, but look at me. Using minutes to measure this music is as pointless as putting the album on a scale to see how much it weighs. “Flotation Divides” is really a whole other lifetime…
Guitar: Paul Lai
Saxophone: Xiao Liu
Drums: Joseph Mauro
Synths/Electronics: Richard Lawson
Mixing/mastering: Timothy Dewit
Engineer: Tom Honda Chen
Photography/layout: Joseph Mauro