Album Review: Malatese – Animal Relief

February 27th, 2014 · 2 Comments · By

Malatese – “Mega Snoozers”

The first Malatese show I ever saw happened at the Harrisonburg townhouse they lived in about three years ago, in-between winter and spring of 2011. It was a sloppy, soulful performance for a crowd barely reaching the double digits; the bass guitar went out at one point, John’s cymbals were busted-up pieces of trash, and most of the members of the band were fucked up on one thing or another (as was I); but their noisy, high-energy performance still sticks in my head as one of the craziest sets I’ve experienced. Over the years since then I’ve seen many a Malatese show, and I’ve never been disappointed; in fact, I’ve been delighted to see them mature into the most consistent and talented purveyors of punk weirdness to come out of Harrisonburg.

Malatese’s most recent EP “Animal Relief” stands as a testament to this; it is their most accomplished set of songs yet. One of the greatest joys in listening to Malatese is their syncretism of disparate elements; they combine the discord of hardcore punk, the funky beats of old school hip hop, and the meditative drone of shogaze into a singular expression of raw power, a style some listeners have dubbed “trance-punk.” “Weak Stream” recalls the nervous energy of post-punk bands like The Fall or Wire, alternating between moments of evil bass and bursts of frenzied guitar, with Travis Legg’s distinctive howl, somewhere between Mark E. Smith and Thom Yorke, completeing the song as a composite of joy and horror. This tension between existential dread and sublime beauty makes up the central narrative of Malatese’s most recent E.P., and maybe even their whole ouvre. The middle track “Twitter Song” casts these themes in the light of a society mediated through technologically-generated sensation. The final song of the bunch, and my personal favorite, “Mega Snoozer” unfolds as a slow-burn ode to ego dissolution. Travis chants/sings the lyrics, “You cut me apart but I wont change at all” over churning noise and a hypnotic drum beat, bringing to mind a Drums Not Dead -era Liars. On Animal Relief, Malatese manages to distill the incindiery power of their live shows into five new tracks full of haunted ecstacy. They’re playing at DC9 tonight with Milagres and Alarms + Controls; definitely check that show out if you’re in the area.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 terry turtle // Feb 27, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    these persistent motherfuckers rock

  • 2 dad // Mar 1, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    happy birthday