Album Review:  Wax Chattels – Clot  (Flying Nun Records)

A tense visceral experience with a strange beauty and charm is Clot the album. From the Auckland noise merchants and music mercenaries that is the threesome Wax Chattels.

Just over two months ago, they put on a powerhouse performance at Auckland’s Whammy Bar, showcasing some of these songs. In the studio and with the help of some crisp production, the songs are revealed as well-constructed and complex soundscapes and are not as chaotic as they may appear in actual physical combat with an audience.

All with Jazz School backgrounds, the trio are Amanda Cheng electric bass, Peter Ruddell keyboards and Tom Leggett drums. For these sessions they also had Ben Greenberg helping on engineering and mixing.

Glue is industrial noise and metal machine music. Drum rolls like an assault weapon breaking down defenses. Melodies seep out and riffs appear towards the finish.

Efficiency starts with a ringtone and a simple rhythm is pulled out. Then crashes and dissonance take over and melt together to form a blast of metal noise. Blood seeps between my teeth/ As I bite my tongue.

Cede starts with a quiet machine sparks until a simple rhythm arises. Then a declamatory voice shouting in fine Henry Rollins style. The word censorship hurtles past you like shrapnel.

The same structure to Mindfulness. Beeps and computer gaming noises. More declamatory singing. The instruments attack and riffs appear spatially in front of the players. The landscape is all dark clouds with bursts of lightning and static electricity.

No Ties is sung by Amanda and addresses alienation and detachment. She is Taiwanese and this work possibly began life as an Immigrant Song. Becomes more desperate and angrier. Yoko wails rather than Plant keening.

Less is More. A big brutal machine rhythm from which riffs eventually appear and music is pulled from the Beast. It ends up at British Heavy Metal with anti-establishment punk vocals.

With Spanners and Implements the heavy music creates a textured landscape. Hypnotic drone patterns form and throw up Mutant Dance to Techno to Acid House. All mixing and coalescing in a cauldron. The background high keyboard tone sounding like a spirit not able to quite find a physical body.

An Eye is all keyboard drone mantra. After a time, you hear and then see Air Force Stealth jets   flying as Amanda yells Attack! Attack! Drum accents help give the song some form.

The experience of this music is to let the machine enter or penetrate the Soft Machine. And then not to tighten up or recoil but let it rise up and generate pulse waves through you.

Forever Marred tries to do this in the most conventional Pop song way. A slow ponderous opening sounding the early Black Sabbath. Then howling electric energy appears and invests itself around you. The voice becomes more discordant and anguished.

Yokohama pits drums and machine and ends up dangerously close to Power Pop. But don’t fear, theatrical voices and a chainsaw starts up near the end to stop any false sense of security.

You Were Right then explores this theatrical side more fully. Chanting singers and pictures of masks, candles and rituals are spun from the dissonant metal music and fast rhythm riffs. Connections are made to hips and backbone and so you gotta move.

Challenging music of ferocious energy and deliberately unsettling. But from inside the maelstrom and the conjuring of spirits there also emerges a work of beauty.

Rev Orange Peel