Drop the Lime: Shot Shot Hearts

Clipd Beaks: Preyers

Scorn-Fury: Invaders

Though Drop the Lime's (L. Venezia) Shot Shot Hearts perpetuates the twisted breakcore-grime-drill'n'bass fusion of its full-length predecessor This Means Forever, the EP's considerably more musical and accessible than one might possibly imagine. Oh sure, it opens with some predictably discombobulated fare. Smashed, shredded, and spasmodic cuts like “Hometaker” and “Get On It” writhe within broiling stews of ammo throbs and strangulating synths with Venezia commanding dance slaves to “Get up, get down” like some merciless S&M officer. But, amazingly, Venezia then reigns in the onslaught on the remaining tunes. Despite its convulsive choruses, “Cold Hearts” includes surprisingly 'gentle' faux-soul verses while “Unfold” leaves ample space around its “Be My Baby” drum beats; Venezia even dons a mutant saloon guise with some vaguely jazz-styled vocalizing on “Dreams” and “Circles.” You could even play the largely a cappella closer “Tonight” for your grandmother, believe it or not.

Cliped Beaks won't win any awards for spelling but the California-based quintet definitely stokes a wailing wall of tortured noise on its debut EP Preyers. Generating its echo-drenched spew from synths, samplers, driving bass lines, pummeling drums, and one 'broken' guitar, the group's sound builds upon the noise-punk tradition of bands like Joy Division and New Order. Preyers opens with “Nuclear Arab,” an eviscerating roar of anguished vocal howls but then, surprisingly, the stylistic scope expands to include a blistering shoegaze meltdown (“Messed Up Desert”) and an epic ambient interlude (“Hash Angels”); listen hard and you may even hear a dance track buried beneath the psychedelic crush of “We Will Bomb You (We Will).”

More rooted in electronic-industrial drum & bass than breakcore or punk, Scorn-Fury's Invaders presents four skuzzy, bombed-out panoramas. In the opener “Dark Cults of Evil,” labyrinthine tendrils of vocal and synth patterns repeat incessantly, the tune growing ever more claustrophobic when left spinning in one position. “Invaders” boosts the intensity with standard drum & bass beats and a surging synth motif, followed by the jittery tribal electro of “Snowflakes” and the slippery groove of “Kages 5.” Certainly there's nothing objectionable about Invaders' sound—it's a fine enough spin on an established genre—but the tracks run on too long. A considerably more satisfying set would have resulted had Scorn-Fury edited the existing cuts to half their length and added four more of equal duration.

March 2006