:take: & White/Lichens: Split Series Vol. 1
Three:Four Records

The Fun Years & .cut featuring Gibet: Split Series Vol. 2
Three:Four Records

Three:Four Records complements its strong compilation Err On the Good Side with two handsomely packaged ten-inch vinyl releases. The split discs conjoin two guitar-oriented drone practitioners, Paris-based :take: and Chicago combo White/Lichens, on the first volume, and a pair of two-man laptop-guitar outfits, Barge Recordings duo The Fun Years and .cut featuring Gibet, on the second—both releases well worth your attention.

:take: (real name Jérôme Boutinot) opens the first disc in a somewhat restrained mode with “Paysage avec fer,” a twilight electrical drone where chattering electric guitar manipulations wrap themselves around a wavering sine tone. His second piece, the meditative “Joie de résistance,” exudes a more natural feel in its focus on slowly unfurling guitar patterns before cresting with an entrancing shimmer in its later moments. Together the pieces offer a good introduction to Boutinot's explorative and open-ended :take: concept, which is rooted in guitar loops, reverb, samples, and improvisation.

The ten-minute “Tonight's the Night” by White/Lichens—a collaboration between kranky artist Lichens (Robert A.A. Lowe) and White/Light (Jeremy Lemos and Matt Clark)—takes sole possession of the B-side. In contrast to the relative quietude of :take:'s tracks, White/Lichens' piece unspools as a guitar-generated firestorm that grows increasingly tumultuous with each passing moment. Best played at loud volume, the blistering and scabrous track wails, screeches, and howls like a dying animal flailing about as it vainly struggles to escape the trap tearing into its leg.

The second volume pairs five short tracks by The Fun Years with two by .cut featuring Gibet. Listeners familiar with The Fun Years' recent full-lengths, Life-sized Psychoses and Baby, It's Cold Inside, will know what to expect from their contribution to the split volume and they won't be disappointed: Recht's baritone guitar lines smothered in dense, heavily-textured masses generated by Sparks from eroded vinyl, manipulated found sounds, and decaying drones. On most of the tracks, Recht's guitar sounds generally blend into the overall sound mass, which makes the clear separation between guitar and accompanying sounds in “We Might Just Have What You Need” so ear-catching. Not that we'd forget necessarily but the side ends with a voice stuttering the group's name during the brief outro “We Don't Need No Fucking Theme Songs.”

On the B side, the oddly-named .cut featuring Gibet (formed in 2003, the group pairs Montreal resident Albérick aka .cut on laptop with Lyon-based Gibet on guitar) first plunges the listener headlong into the nightmarish “Up the River Da Nang...,” a powerful sonic evocation of the psychosis and trauma associated with the Vietnam War experience and the madness personified by Colonel Kurtz in both Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now. Molten slabs of scarred guitar lines breathe fire alongside shimmering fields of tremolo guitars, with the elements melding together inseparably as the piece grows ever more violent and deranged. The duo's second piece, “On the Next Morning I Woke Up and Realized I Was Only Part of the Factory,” is less disturbing in intent and concludes the volume with a comparatively soothing stream of echoing guitar lines.

August 2009