If cassettes are making a comeback then this Beasts EP from industrial slide-blues manglers Honkeyfinger is the future. Lurid cheapo yellow, double wrapped in CARDBOARD – a rustic corrugated self-folding box – and stamped with only the most essential text, it’s a low-tech high-value pack that wholly befits the primal fuzz furled around the spools.
And primal is the word. Deranged might be another. Channelling a Blues-Explosion howl and laying it with max distortion over a moto kraut rhythm that POUNDS, opening track 21st Century Man is this year’s best tribute to the Heads but without any of the Bristolians’ stretch, speed and infinite wah. No, Honkeyfinger packs it way tight.
Honkeyfinger packs the blues.
Not downbeat back porch unplugged blues but hotwired-into-the-mains blues. Fried blues, deviant slide guitar kill blues, screaming from a low-watt yellow-bulb basement-squat blues: THAT’S what we’re hearing here, for this track at least – Jesus Built My Hotrod blues, compressed by a shallow production that flattens all the air and space out of it.
Wiseblood slows the pace, lurching and heaving like a pissed cyborg, before Fever Rising wheels in the creeped-out carousel madness of Silver Apples. You know those rhapsodic gospel blues jams that go on and on and ON at a pace that fetches up your agitation, makes you feel twitchy with its hypermania? That’s what this points at. Which is probably why it’s got the name it’s got. Harmonica rips and clarinet strips, the latter peeled off by Duke Garwood who, if memory serves at all, did some time with the Archie Bronson Outfit a few years back. He also put a record out with Mark Lanegan this year … same Duke Garwood? Must be. I’d like to hear that. Bet it sounds nothing like this though.
Closing it all off is the sludge comedown: In the Realms of the Noble Savage, a gasping crawl through sewer stink while roadwork pneumatics hammer above on the topside outside, oblivious. Seedy slow underground … blues. Never forget the blues.
And there we have Beasts. Machine beats, no-depth underproduction, slide ‘n harmonica, distorto vox, lo-fi all the way. How Honkeyfinger fare over a full-length album is anyone’s guess and it might just be that an EP, short and sharp, is the ultimate shock dosage. Bring out the next one quick.
Honkeyfinger: Beasts (Greasy Noise Records, 2013)
Limited edition (100) cassette
- 21st Century Man
- Wise Blood
- Fever Rising
- Noble Savagery