(New Album Review) Consumer. & The Translucent Spiders- Con / Tra [Split]

A winter inhospitable in far too many ways is upon us. What better time to immerse ourselves in the dark and psychical sounds of the Pac Northwest underground than now? And the offering we have got before us at the moment, the Con/Tra split tape by Consumer. and The Translucent Spiders might be one of the best introductions to all those goings-on you could ever hope to find — a meal for your head, of deliciously disorienting psychedelic sounds definitely not happened upon carelessly. Con/Tra was mastered by Mike Erwin. It’s also worth a note that The Translucent Spiders’ half of the split features members of the awesome Portland-based noise duo The Social Stomach. The dissection begins now.

The first time I encountered Consumer. was at my friend Kieran’s performance series Meanwhile, Elsewhere…, where, even among all the totally-inspiring stuff that was flying at me all rapid-fire and seemingly-disconnected, one set got burned in my brain. Since then, Consumer. has played many more shows, put out more recorded material, and collaborated with a variety of Portland artists in addition to becoming something of a driving influence in the Portland noise community. But what is Consumer.’s music about? It’s a one-man band of a dirty, hardware-fashioned electronica/rhythmic noise, ricocheting and reeling until you are flabbergasted that it, he, and you are still holding together. Driving the whole engine are his just-as-unhinged, emotive vocals; in his veering from guttural agony to swanky incantations, you can see how, like Damo Suzuki, he surrenders to the absurd to resurrect the “caveman language” of rock and roll. Indeed, you get the sense of an improviser who puts himself out there, no holds barred, no need for pretense here. His half of the split (a mixture of live sets and studio recordings) is going to hook you, no doubt about it– with hammering, splintered romps “Ask Me If I’m a Tree” and “Steppin’ On Glue” abound, you’re practically already under this ruffian’s spell…


The Transulent Spiders are sometimes a band proper, sometimes a one-guy deal (let’s not worry ourselves too much with names, here…), bridging surreal sound collage and psychedelic rock in a volatile mixture. For this crucial document (not too many recordings from the Spiders readily available on the net, so far), core member Nik Fook harnesses squealing free jazz mayhem, alternately cheeky and poetic spoken-word, and an insistent krautrock pulse for something as circus-like and hypnotic as Nurse With Wound’s Live at Bar Maldoror. The conclusion “Take Me off To Space”, with its Gong-esque moribund ecstasy cuts the banquet short, the earth scorched and the craft bearing the willing passenger dwindling ever more in the distance. A real pleasure to look this one over– hoping for a full-length soon! You owe to yourself to give it a listen…


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