by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
When we last left Western MA's Tundrastomper, the quartet had just released their latest album, O, a glistening prog-punk extravaganza packed to the gills with interesting shifts and impeccable execution. The band shred and they do so with a skill beyond most, but they do it with a humble sense of exploration, a "let's see where this road takes us" kind of mentality. It's been less than a year since that album's summer release, but the band are back with another mind-expanding record, the caustic Clean It Up EP, due out Friday, March 2nd via Sad Cactus Records. Tagged "#weirdpunk" by the label, their latest is a jaw-dropping set of unpredictable fury, a storm of flailing notes and spastic rhythms that draw as much from prog as they do post-hardcore, math rock, and no-wave. These songs don't so much unfold as they ignite.
From the first shuffling moments of album opener "Sweet Baby Boy" to the close of "Patch It Up," the band opt out of playing it "cool," instead indulging the listener (and themselves) with a blizzard of convulsing rhythms and guitars that cut directly through the tangled splendor. Sonic freakouts abound, and every song takes its own approach to their madness. "Sweet Baby Boy" has a collapsing free jazz vibe, dropping in and out of technical bliss (seriously, the rhythm section is unbelievable), switching between tempos and movements in the blink of an eye. "How Very Nice" opts for a deranged sort of pop approach, grinding out liquid rhythms and elastic riffs with a sunny vibe, occasionally taking an opportunity to smash everything directly into a wall or two.
The back half is a juxtaposition of two tracks, the brutal "For Flies Only" and the gorgeous "Patch It Up," two songs equally gripping with a complete tonal opposition to one another. "For Flies Only" rips as hard as any post-hardcore song this decade. It's ruthless and unpredictable, sputtering through filth and abrasive no-wave, with blast beats and relentless aggression. "Patch It Up" on the other hand is primarily acoustic, taking a classical guitar style and throwing it into the blender with beautiful results. Tundrastomper are the type of band to leave you exasperated in a puddle of slime, trying to piece together what the hell just happened but knowing things have changed for the better. There's no turning back.
Tundrastomper's Clean It Up is out March 2nd via Sad Cactus Records.