Houston's esteemed history of experimental artists continues to develop, gifting this city some of the most adventurous sounds to date. These five recordings best captured this adventurous and often transgressive spirit in 2015.
5. AK'CHAMEL, The Man Who Drank God
The third-eyed, chain-smoking, bedeviled character peering menacingly into the listener’s soul sets the tone to this suspiciously collection of ragas and chants that creates the wonder of millions of unknown universes circling inside of our pinky’s cuticle. Adorned in masks reminiscent of nightmares that take place during sleep paralysis, this three-piece band normally evades finite human measurement, but this album slipped under our reconnaissance, making its cosmic appearance in July. “Kume Pluke” possesses chants cluttering the human soul with AM radio waves never settling onto one station. “There Is No Cure” comes apart at the seams with nuanced Sufi percussion and monotone chants that wildly plants the notion in our minds that the human spirit is much more than a smartphone, a selfie-stick and a bank account.
4. P.L.X.T.X., “love street light circus feel good machine”
The elasticity of Bradley Munoz’s brain continues to expand. He makes this list for the second year in a row not because of his hyper-charged postmodern neo-jungle diatribes. No, throwing the proverbial curveball of the year, he has created a “binaural experience” possessing frequencies that can provide the listener with a full night’s sleep in 21 short minutes. Who really gets eight hours of sleep these days except teenage video gamers playing Fallout 4 for 36 hours straight? Nearly inaudible tones drone lowly in bass frequencies ranging from coma to R.E.M. stage. Snatches of conversation enter our subconscious without invitation. The result? The perfect mixtape that renders Ambien useless.
3. PINK EYE, Rope Culture
Take a page out of The Minutemen’s book, and only one song extends past two-minutes long. Sure, punk odes to the disenfranchised are nothing new; yet, what is new is how each of Pink Eye's compositions disintegrates only to find its form in deformity. “14” takes its eye off of the ball because it doesn’t want to play by the game’s rules anymore. Noise’s importance takes precedence over punk's classic 1-2-3-4 cries. “Blech” comes at the listener like a train has already derailed and there's no hope of getting out of its way. Rope Culture is not just one of the best experimental/noise albums of this year; it is one of the best albums of 2015. Period.
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2. MOTHS, Moths/Haunter split
If you haven’t seen the Moths perform live, then God does not love you. Forget going to heaven; hell is going to be your destination. “Itro” highlights how noise can be crafted into something beautifully ugly. Its melodicism and meditative tempo then surrender to “Wsky,” heralding the desperate screams over lightning-fast rhythms that seamlessly shift time signatures. “Wrth” further showcases Moths' deep appreciation for shattering conventional rhythms while lurking behind them a millstone-around-your-neck heaviness. The incredible cover art by Darcy Rosenberg accurately depicts the band's unbroken energy, too.
1. COP WARMTH, “Vanity Shrine”
Goddamn Cop Warmth. The Trash Gods write the closest thing to a conventional song in their career and it mercilessly does what Cop Warmth has become best known for: discombobulation. “Vanity Shrine” is your Facebook page, Instagram photos, and Snapchat stories thrown into the largest dung pile in the world, because Cop Warmth knows you are spending too much time looking at yourself in digital mirrors. “Vanity Shrine” dismisses all narcissists in a mere three minutes. Pasadena’s native sons even garnered the attention of Noisey this year. But trust me, that won’t change a thing for them save draw the attention of those who need music like theirs. Cop Warmth will continue to do what they do best — destroy all creation, even their own.