Last Red Cent


Metal Rouge are the Los Angeles duo of Andrew Scott and Helga Fassonaki who have already made a number of albums for Seymour Records, Digitalis, Root Strata and Not Not Fun. They have the distinction of owning the first catalogue number on Emerald Cocoon with their Trails LP in 2010, and now here they are with Soft Erase (EMERALD COCOON EC10), their second outing for this label. And it’s a fine heavy item of thrashing, throbbing avant-filth, made by means I know not but it may well involve guitars and a very uncooperative drum machine providing a bad-tempered pulsation to the sessions. I think tape loops and delay machines come into it somewhere too. Compelling sound, and the palpable emotion is instantly on tap the second you dial your amplifier up to two o’clock position. The alienated listener will be instantly attracted to ‘Take It’, the punchy album opener which is like a nastier, more metallised version of Suicide, but there’s much to be said for ‘When Will the Blues Leave’ which follows it, a funeral march which proceeds at a deathly pace with a despairing thump for its elephant-walk tread, while the mourners issue their harrowing howls of complaint using both agonised voices and tortured electric guitars to pluck out high shrill notes of pain…so far, no complaints from the peanut gallery…

The B side contains a key track, ‘White Cube Graffiti’, where the abrasive equation is only slightly eased by the addition of Giles Miller’s saxophone…if anything the music ends up growing more twisted and weird as it proceeds, as though we’re watching an organ graft operation go horribly wrong. “This is probably our angriest album,” claim the band, seething hate at the world through clenched teeth. The anger has something to do with their personal disillusionment after a fine art event which went badly, meaning loss of payment, broken promises, and a massive shock to Scott and Fassonaki who appear overnight to have lost their faith in the supposed “brotherhood” of creators. The album, which incidentally took them over two years to complete – presumably their rage was so consuming that they could barely even speak, and only express it in broken fits and starts – is intended as a furious rebuke to the corrupt gallery system, which is probably why ‘White Cube Graffiti’ is such a key title. More pointedly apposite is their use of the Italian graffiti artist Blu for the cover artworks. His work is not only outside the gallery system – it only exists in the street – but outside the law, as he’s been banned (in Los Angeles, at any rate) for his spray-painting hi-jinks and, for all I know, his hidden messages of sedition and treachery. Certainly the rough image of a coffin draped with a large dollar bill, and restated multiple times in a crude parody of an Andy Warhol serial image, is a pretty – erm – resonant statement, to say the very least. Although Metal Rouge aren’t completely satisfied with this record, as it’s somewhat unpolished and unfinished, they are proud of the fact that it’s all derived from live takes with no overdubs. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s a strong and exciting statement of warped rock-noise, but also works as an honest expression of their rage and disaffection. Arrived here 19 August 2013.

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