Uneasy listening, but what did you expect from Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea)? This is the pairs sophomore album following their 2016 debut and is as uncompromising and diverse as you would hope. Kelly and Parker have form outside this project of course – Corrections House which features the genius of Mike IX Williams (Eyehategod) and they certainly sound at home together here. That home, however, is a sub-basement with a flickering light and a pile of rags in the corner. At least I hope they are rags.
I See What I Became is an unsettling walk through an industrial underbelly. The tracks reek of menace and decay with all the gravitas of Killing Joke and the swirling melody of Fields of the Nephilim. This is not bombast, this is the hypnotism of a serpent that will coil itself around you and crush your ribs before you can scream. It’s dark snout thrusting down your lifeless throat to tear at your organs. Yup that just about describes “Rats in the Alley” which is about half way in.
Kelly and Parker – is it me or does that sound like a wise cracking Boston detective team? – lure listeners in with “Animal Coffins” with sonic decoupage, creating intrigue and anticipation as each sound is layered on finally creating the soundtrack for a post-apocalyptic chain gang.
“Tomb Puncher” is a futuristic industro gothic track wrought with pain and anguish. You can imagine the rain cascading off neon. The drums and other synthesized percussion distort and bounce, perforating the track like braille. “Body Ash” is stripped back in comparison but just as picture evoking. The driving galley beat sounds like it is being thrashed onto corrugated iron whilst a room of cut wires writhe with their current. Fuck, this ain’t an album it’s an aural hallucinogen. “Thing of Knives “ continues the theme.
“Crooked Teeth” was the teaser track to the album. Opening with discordant bells it has more than a whiff of Reznor about it with locomotive like beats that threaten to become breakbeat … but never do. This a theme of the album. The pair always appear to be on the cusp of a big drop into a huge arms in the air moment but never reach the vinegar strokes. I think that is the point of course, but I begin to feel a little cheated as well as deliciously scummy. This is what it must be like to be a politician from Surrey.
“Death Cart” melds together a sorrowful darkwave sonnet with manic cyber beats. It shouldn’t work. It does. It is when the final track “Coward Heat” trundles in like a Jawa transporter in tattooine that it hits me. Both Kelly’s voice and the feel of the tracks have the black magic outlaw ambience of Nick Cave about them. I get it. I understand why there is no happy glow stick payoff. This is a reflection of all that is dark and it is attacking my grey cells in its melancholy wow.
Damn it feels good!
(8.5/10 Matt Mason)