That awkwardly named beautifully intense New York avant noise band Child Abuse have a new album, we just had a first listen to the whole thing, here’s an immediate reaction and a first track released…
Child Abuse, it isn’t the easiest of band names to live with (or search for), really don’t like it, but then they’re not the easiest band in the world to live with anyway, this is gloriously visceral hard-boiled, listen to that noise! Straight in, no messing! Imagine a gang (rather than a swarm) of awkwardly angry bees armed with peck-hammers and various obtuse mood-states, imagine those bees flying in angular squares around your head, imagine there’s wasps and hornets and heaven knows what joining in the attack, mathematically inclined insects flying at you from all kinds of different angles. That name though, really don’t for one second think they’re anything sinister to be read in to the Brooklyn band’s rather annoying name, I do get the idea that they kind of enjoy being annoying and awkwardly obtuse though, this is not the sound of a band looking for a hit single or some daytime radio play. Child Abuse are a gloriously difficult band, they’re a confrontational set of noisy bastards, buzzsaws rather than peck=hammers, they do keep on pecking though, they are relentless, they have been for a good few years now, hang on, let me check, something like fifteen years so it seems
This is a first listen, a first reaction, I haven’t really caught that many of the lyrics so far, musically they’re another band who like to fall up stairs, there’s notes flying off in the wrong direction in just the right way, there’s sounds bumping into each other, damnation, they’re on good form. Sure, we can try dancing around their architecture and tery and throw up a signpost or two, we can talk about brutal avant prog or grindcore death metal, we can talk of free-form jazz, although maybe not that free-form, maybe hard-boiled awkwardly good jazz for noiseheads who like to disturb the peace and the bees and the wasps and the hornets and anything else that happens to be fling around, we can talk about punk rock and the real spirit of challenge – this is an assault, this is a headflip, and just when you think there’s a breath to be grabbed he roars again, monstrous! We’re somewhere around track four now, “Alternative Facts”, we’re somewhere there out in in the desert in a red shark looking for the Mint 400 or the American dream or some kind of brexit from reality, damn this is good! I wish they had a different band name but damn this is gloriously good!
Round five, “Imaginary Friends”, imaginary flies heading in on those bees more like, fifth listen you understand, they’re battering senses here, this is difficultly good, and when you focus, this is pinpoint, this is on-point, this isn’t just noise for the sake of it, this is very clever without ever feeling the need to tell us how clever it is (I really can’t be doing with those pony-tailed musicians who need to constantly tell us how clever they are, you know the sort,tedious technical metal bands, progressive bores), CA really don’t need to shove their musicianship at us, they’re comfortable enough to not have to or need to, If it is out of control then they know and they like it like that and the reality is everything is in perfect control. Like looking at ten Jackson Pollock paintings all at once while Rothko paints the inside of your eyeballs. hang on, they’ve take a different road, still an abrasive one but they’re letting us grab some air now, some kind of tribal thing but nothing like any tribe save for maybe the tribe of Arab on Radar. Someone just walked in and asked if it was Flying Luttenbachers? In the same ballpark, same family of bands but no, CA (as we might start calling them) do have a sound of their own Closing track is called “Wavy Gravy”, no idea why? It doesn’t sound like they’re playing kazoos while directing traffic and preaching peace and love at Woodstock – it is I must confess it might almost a relief to get to the end in one piece, to savour that golden silence just for a couple of seconds before the repeat button is hit and we go again…. ding dig, round one again….
Incidentally, “ If you aren’t familiar with drummer Oran’s background, his book and relationship with his world-famous father adds a whole new dimension to the name” . Hadn’t really noticed the first track was called “Imaginary Enemy”, they sound like a satanic death cult said someone over in the corner, “one of New York’s most innovative and polarizing bands” so says the press release I just started reading the press release, really wanted to listen to he album before anything was read, I see now that the album itself is called “Imaginary Enemy”. If you know them already then all you really need to know is the New Yorkers have done it again, on first couple of listens they’re sounding as thrilling as ever, as challenging as ever, as awkwardly rewarding as ever, you might not like that name, you’ll love the music (sw)
Child Abuse are bassist vocalist Tim Dahl (renowned for his work with the likes of Lydia Lunch, The Flying Luttenbachers, Eugene Chadbourne and Tatsuya Yoshida), multi instrumentalist Eric Lau, drummer/author Oran Canfield (whose mémoire “Long Past Stopping” was released by Harper Collins) plus guest vocalist Eric Paul (of Psychic Graveyard, Arab on Radar). Cover art by the way is by Albert Oehlen, “The foremost painter of the era” so says The New Yorker
ABOUT THE BAND NAME….
“Oran Canfield (musician, author and son of Jack Canfield of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series – which has more than 250 titles and 500 million copies in print in over 40 languages) writes that his birth in 1974 was presided over by 10 Buddhist monks who chanted throughout the 72-hour delivery. His parents, Timothy Leary-types who ran a holistic health centre in Massachusetts, dined on the placenta. For the first year of his life, as Canfield describes in his memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional family, he was cared for by “a community of weird therapists, early self-help freaks and drug-experimenting hippies”. – THE GUARDIAN
“Child Abuse? Well, what monster is in favor of that? Some victims of it will recoil at the phrase; others can deal with it just fine. The band Child Abuse has been around for a decade and plays a noisy, jazzy brand of metal. They’re not a bunch of juvenile fools, but rather a serious group who feature Tim Dahl, a member also of Lydia Lunch Retrovirus. The thing is, provocative, puerile names have for decades inhabited punk and other styles of rock, as well as hiphop. And those of dainty sensibilities should probably never venture into extreme metal, where monikers like Anal Cunt, Goatwhore, and Napalm Death reign. These names usually serve as blatant code for a certain type of person who fancies him/herself a nonconformist, a connoisseur of shock…” – THE STRANGER
“When we started, Oran was playing a real small drum set and I was playing this crappy Casio keyboard, which I’m still playing, and it seemed really descriptive. It was like this real brutal children’s music. I don’t think we realized the weight behind the name in terms of the varying responses we have gotten,” he says. “But there’s no escaping it now. It would be a cop-out if we changed the name.” – THE WASHINGTON POST