Made in Mexico, a four piece from Rhode Island featuring ex-members of La Machine, Arab on Radar, and Bossman, make quite an unsettling screech on their debut, Zodiac Zoo. These 44 minutes and ten seconds twist within a contorted underbelly of Beefheart-esque abandon and dour, pugilist, No Wave. Opener “Farewell Myth” sees Rebecca Mitchell affect confrontation and incomprehension quite successfully, tellingly underlined by the lyric “by their terms they ride so high.” “Infrared Eye” drops bombs like Magazine meeting My Ruin at a slaughterhouse, while “Monster In Time” has some of the testifying unease that Lift To Experience used so well.
With a record this forthright it seems apt to carry on with the notable songs. “Clockwork” mixes PiL and Gang of Four style rhythms as roughly as possible, with a touch of Sonic Youth. “International Zombie” is even more toxic, just as likely to rot your teeth as well as your ears. There’s a touch of Joy Division’s “Interzone” to the unease, and lots of under-channeled anguish to boot. “Ultraviolet Arms” has a nightmare Suicide quality. And “Black Rabbit” recalls something being snapped vitally, in a free-jazz style.
Throughout Zodiac Zoo, the instruments and vocals seem to scream. It’s something I’ve heard before plenty of times, on most of Alec Empire’s work, or early Hole, but there’s an undeniable energy that commands attention. Add to that the kind of whirring vacancy present with the Birthday Party or on Trout Mask Replica and you have a fearsome mixture. As my stereo stops, I’m overcome with a slight feeling of trepidation and a touch of enlightenment. Rewarding stuff, if you give it a chance.
The Birthday Party- Junkyard
Sonic Youth- Kontakte
Captain Beefheart- Trout Mask Replica