Energy Czar

  • Hunting Lodge
  • Farm Girl / Super-Fi / Blood Red Sounds
  • 2005-12-12

After the impressive self-titled and Scott Joplin’s Piano Rags EPs and last year’s split 7” with Liverpool’s Mugstar, Energy Czar arrives as Hunting Lodge’s first full-length. It’s often a hard transition from gig to record with bands like this, where the appeal is in the noise and chaos which seems bound up in its performance in the intense live situation. The EPs had done alright but the band seem now to be both noisier and crazier than ever, so how’d they do? Short answer: they did well, it’s an album as messed up as necessary. Long answer: read on.

On first listen the album didn’t really hit in properly until the fourth track “Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions” — a real air-raid siren noise track with wailing guitars, bass where the distortion knob’s been turned right round through ten a couple of times, tub-thump pummeling and that ever so gloriously demented yelp-groan that replaces where pop groups have singing. This slightly hellish noise is what Hunting Lodge do best, although what makes them so interesting is the way that they do it in several different ways, and how it is often punctuated with a kind of avant-rock cabaret of stop/starts and speed-ups.

“The Average Sound of Whitley Bay” offers a punk storm breaking down into a tapping mess; “I am Feudal Japan”’s fat drum intro leads to discordant rock and jazz bursts; and “Silver Prince”’s frenetic noise sections book-end a jammed-out kind of riff experiment. And adding to the latter track’s noise is the glorious saxophone work of Terry Edwards (Lydia Lunch’s brass man), who plays sax and trumpet on a few of the tracks on the album.

a cacophony and wonderful mess of the highest order

“Cosmic Lightning” offers a riff driven short burst of a song, and leads into the hammering of “(K)Palixio, Nature Wizered”. This is followed by a new version of “The Plough” off of the Scott Joplin’s… EP offering trademark discordance and wildman bass. “Holy Quaternity of Country Singers” offers the band’s take on disco — also felt previously on the aforementioned EP — with typical jerky, jazzy off beat guitars, and powerful drum rhythms, giving you that undeniable urge to groove to the dirge. The album ends with “Warning To Birds” which lures the listener into a false sense of calm with its initial atmospherics before exploding into a cacophony and wonderful mess of the highest order.

Through further listening and getting more into the feel of the record Energy Czar gets better and better, and those first few tracks which didn’t initially ensnare me got to sounding much more impressive — opening gambit “Hero of the Beach”’s chainsaw guitar attack and stuttering vocal foolery, “Dub Ghost”’s spazzes splitting up the driving post-punk beat and “Freebyrd”’s huge distorted string crunchings.

For reference points you’re looking at The Jesus Lizard, Volt, The Birthday Party, Todd, Ex Models, Chinese Stars and more — this is one ugly party heading straight at your face. It’s true that it does lack something that the live show gives you — Hunting Lodge’s sound just doesn’t produce easily, and it ends up missing some intensity, feeling or just the sheer barrage of the extreme noise level in the enclosed space — but taken as an approximation, or a different thing entirely, it’s a great record.

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