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Review: SWAPS (Joyful Noise)

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SWAPS
S/T
Joyful Noise Recordings
4.5 Stars

A hefty dose of experimental sound presented by a pickup band composed of members of Deerhoof, XBXRX, and Secret Chiefs 3. Though none of the members (John Dieterich, Ed Rodriguez, Steve Touchton and Ches Smith) are strangers to the weird and wild, as SWAPS, the group chucks out pop nuance for down and dirty tinkering, using only the filthiest, trashiest sounds to compose their two-song, two-sided affair.

“Pair Bonds," which takes its name from the world of biology, finds the foursome comparing and contrasting sound during an 11-minute exercise in deconstruction. Various pairings of instruments are taken for free-form test drives, without the band ever settling on a uniform rhythm or style. It's a track interested in the next, new, exciting thing — by proxy, so is SWAPS.

B-side “Aether Defects” once more sums up the band aesthetic. Sporadic bursts of drums, guitar, and anything else that happens to be laying around fills the space with angular ferocity. An angry tone missing from recent Deerhoof and XBXRX releases is rediscovered here. What keeps SWAPS from being perfect are the lulls — those moments when the energy is sapped out and exhaustion rears its head. Still, those are brief, and they little compromise the overall thrust of the record.

Hear: an excerpt from "Pair Bonds" (via Joyful Noise)

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