Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse
Ty Segall isn't known for producing works of polished beauty. He deals, instead, in aggression, unevenness; creating an unsettling brew of blues rock which bends and distorts the template laid down by its forebears. On this, his second of three planned album appearances this year, he has chosen to up the incendiary ante even further by capturing his band on record for the first time. The sound is that of a bandleader revelling in the freedom of a live set-up and it's louder and more abrasive than anything he's done before. Indeed, its title gives you a decent idea of what's on offer across its 11 pummeling tracks; it's a brutal journey, and if you were told it was recorded in an abattoir, you'd have scant evidence to disagree.
Slaughterhouse's warped modus operandi is captured perfectly on Segall and co's version of Bo Diddley's 'Diddy Wah Diddy'. Far from a faithful reproduction of the blues standard, it's a breakneck onslaught of guttural yelps and feedback fuzz that stretches the very concept of a cover. While tipping the cap to its lineage, it forcefully asserts its determination to overthrow it. Thematically, it plays with and subverts the original's innocent approach to love and courtship ("This little girl is sweet as she could be / I know she's in love with me"), giving it an altogether darker twist, given voice through Segall's improvised couplets. "I'm gonna take that girl home," he announces towards the end, before degenerating in to a visceral, unintelligible scream that stands as the diametric opposite to Diddley's syrupy clichés, conveying spades more emotion and giving rhythm and blues a postmodern makeover in the process.
Considering it made it on to the record, the bandleader's postscript commentary is also telling: "I don't know what we're doing. Wait, let's rewind it and go again." The fact that a version as messy - and at times ugly – as this was able to make the cut speaks volumes about Segall's punk aesthetic, where chaos reigns supreme and imperfections are applauded rather than tweaked.
The rest of the album is characterised by the warring forces showcased here, as distortion and noise muscles in, repeatedly knocking down the pop structures that Segall builds. 'I Bought My Eyes', the album's undoubted highlight, welds Zombies- esque vocal pop to garage rock ferocity in the vein of The Stooges or the MC5. You can see the perspiration as it slides down the walls on 'Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart', a Hamburg-era Beatles throttle that balances melody and brawn and hints at how 'Please Please Me' might have sounded had the fab four not encountered Epstein and Martin.
Slaughterhouse, then, is a record that finds Segall at his mercurial best. Though carefully underpinned by an intricate pop blueprint, dissonance always lurks, and just as you begin to marvel at his craftsmanship Segall is sure to pull the plug. If harmonies don't unravel then a cacophony of guitars will drown them out, so that although there are strong signals here that he continues to grow as a songwriter, this album places equal value in brute force and nihilism. "The live band is so much different than me recording stuff on my own," he recently admitted. "It's a lot harder and louder." However, if Segall's work is often cathartic, Slaughterhouse sounds like an exorcism.
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