by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
Ramp Local have been putting out the finest of weirdo hits since they first started and the past year and a half has been a non-stop celebration of punk's most creative and deranged bands. They've released some of our favorite records of 2016 including albums from Big Neck Police, The Cradle, Banned Books, Nina Ryser and many others. The Philadelphia via Brooklyn label is rounding out the year with Eclectic Sessions Volume 2, another diverse collection of experimental bands and artists such as (New England) Patriots, PC Worship, Mark Cone, Simon Hanes (Tredici Bacci), Neolibz (ex-Banned Books) and so many others. Leading up to the compilation's December 9th release, the label has been sharing music in three song batches that offer a glimpse of the tape's wide range and its unpredictable quality. We're happy to share the third set aka "Batch #3" for you today, the compilation's stunning finale provided by Bichkraft, Zula, and Cal Fish (Turnip King).
The trio of diverse and thoughtful punk (though I use that word in the loosest sense) kicks off with Ukrainian industrial noise punks Bichkraft, a band that's quickly becoming a household name around here. Their single "George" pulses on a detached rhythm and skronky guitar line that slowly fades as the driving synths devour the mix before the jagged riff returns and warps into dissonance. Capped off with a hazily extended outro reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails at their most serene (think "A Warm Place") it's a perfect introduction to Bichkraft's hyper active dirge of manipulated sounds and harsh mechanical punk for anyone unfamiliar with the band.
On the opposite end of the spectrum comes Brooklyn's Zula, a band that have immersed themselves in the world of experimental psychedelic pop, blending together their own unique mix of funk, soul, indie rock, afrobeat, dream pop and krautrock. The quartet's sound is always alive and undeniably vibrant (as seen on the recently released Grasshopper LP) and "Forced Hands" is no exception. Compilation tracks are often seen as "scraps" but Zula have rarely sounded better. "Forced Hands" finds the band skipping from one idea to the next, a crash course in all they are capable of and the results are jaw dropping. With the tightest rhythm section in "the game" the polyrhythmic groove lays a stunning framework for the Terepka cousins (Henry and Nate) to wander and explore, layer and repeat, and spin off into more blissful atmospheres. It's quintessential Zula, a band forever progressing forward with infinitely shapeshifting possibilities.
Turnip King guitarist/singer Cal Fish (who just released the election themed Fight For Free) closes out this batch of songs with "Swept and Thin," a sound collage of sorts with melting tempos and detuned instrumentation. Creaking together as Eastern tonalities meet lo-fi tape hiss and minimal waves of free form experimentation, Fish takes us on a meditative journey deep within the frayed world of art-damaged devotional pop. It's deliberately disorienting and simultaneously gorgeous, a visionary path free of direction and void of concerns for accessibility. Let your mind wander as Fish's ramshackle folk clamor fills your senses, clears your thoughts, and leaves you (strangely) restored.
Ramp Local is a label you should be paying attention to and Eclectic Sessions ain't just a clever name. The label are set to celebrate the tape's release with two album release shows in Philadelphia and Brooklyn. Full details and pre-order info available below.
Eclectic Sessions Release Shows:
Eclectic Sessions Volume 2 is out December 9th. Pre-orders are available via Ramp Local.