Friday Night Noise: Indian Jewelry and Prurient

Indian Jewelry, "Seasonal Economy"

At its gnarliest, Houston's Indian Jewelry reminds Friday Night Noise of that brief period a few years back where James Toth was transitioning away from being part of being the "Wooden Wand" part of the "Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice" equation, towards the "serious, for-real singer-songwriter" dimension he now occupies. We're thinking of Harem of the Sundrum (Soft Abuse) specifically - a clutch of distorted noise-folk dispatches from an exodus in the desert, or so it sounded.

Toth still sounded like a unorthodix, peyote-popping preacher, but while on his own introduced a welcome structure to his songwriting, which set it apart from the general WW&VV aesthetic of getting ripped, jamming aimlessly for hours, then editing the results into oodles of super-limited edition ephemera.

Anyway, Indian Jewelry are on a similar journey, except that their shit's either really burlap rough or really lo-fi spacious.

"Seasonal" falls in the first category. There's definitely a central melody beneath all the churning, feedback-tarred guitars, Americana harmonica molt, and reverbed-to-infinity vocalisms; there's a sung refrain, too, about whatever.

But the band's no-fi scrawl's really the point here, and as "Seasonal" thickens and threatens to overheat and set the soup kitchen on fire, you can feel Indian Jewelry not-so-deftly fucking with your depth perception, creating the illusion through studio trickery that its autumnal blare is somehow coming at you from above or below, that you're being tilted this way or that on a teeter-toter through your headphones.

Prurient, "Gardener of the Broken Arm"

Diversity is the engine of enterprise, so the increasing tendency of bands and artists to go all uber-exclusive on us in recent years - ultra super-duper limited multi-format releases, eschewing aluminum in favor of vinyl, the cassette-tape renaissance, etc. - as scenesters file-share and disposible income dries up should surprise no-one. Rose Pillar (Heartworm) is such a package; only 500 copies of this for-Prurient-diehards-only set were produced; that's half the number Animal Collective pressed up for its Animal Crack Box rarities extravaganza.

For $100, consumers get a vinyl album and 180-page book chockful of Prurient-cobbled collages that're likely as conflicted and disturbed as the avalanche of jabbed lacerations Hospital Productions honcho Dominick Fernow has committed to tape since adopting the Prurient handle 11 years ago. During an email exchange several weeks back, Fernow informed us that Pillar - which arrives on the heels of collabos with FFH and Wilt, a split with Sickness, and incognito anguish fits as Tortured Hooker - is his sole major circa-now release.

Maybe that's for the best. Last year witnessed such a deluge of Prurient (most of it top-shelf) that getting psyched for each new release was almost a struggle. And we'll fess up: FNN didn't buy Rose Pillar, so we have no idea how its sonics and visuals play off one another, or if one should dose before diving in, or whatever. But the album's pretty solid, even if it's not overwhelmingly different than what's come before. At points we're further convinced that Fernow's drifting away from his extreme tonal death/confessional power 'tronics/ritualistic static-blast traditions and into Xasthur doomisms. Pillar is ponderously calm at moments, and anguished at others.

"Gardener" is one of the album's heavier meditations, a twined wraith of mercurial static, ominous bass figures, shaded synths, and vocals charred down to burnt effigies of at-rope's-end emotion: imagine a planet destroying itself, eating itself alive, or opening a basement door only to find a corpse being ravaged by weevils. There's the definite, all-encompassing sense of everything going to shit and Fernow trying to scream the pieces back together - like Superman rewinding the world to save Lois Lane - though there's no way to say exactly what the problem at hand is. Five hundred or so paying customers will have a better chance at sussing that out than I will.

Got some hot Texas noise tips - or, hell, any noise tips - for us? Hit us up with last.fm links or MP3s at [email protected].

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Ray Cummings