As a form, the split release in general has its ups and downs. For someone discovering new bands, it can be a great way to get more than you otherwise might from a single track on a sampler, and for longtime fans, they make great collectors? pieces. Who doesn?t enjoy saying, ?Oh, I?ve already got all that,? when a compilation of non-album tracks is released years later? Hey, we all have to get our kicks somehow.
The drawback is that usually neither band (assuming there are only two) is able to fully develop a concept or explore a musical range as they otherwise might on an individual EP or full-length. In the case of the Violent Hippy Records split between Seattle doomers Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and angry artistes Mico de Noche, the issue is skirted and both bands manage to deliver quality work telling of where they?re at in their development and songwriting. Drawbacks need not apply.
For the trio Brothers of the Sonic Cloth — helmed by veteran guitarist/vocalist Tad Doyle of Tad and Hog Molly with Peggy Tully on bass and ubiquitous Northwestern drummer, guitarist, graphic designer and coffee enthusiast Aaron D.C. Edge here on drums — the contribution comes appropriately in one 12-minute song. After hearing their 2009 demo, easily the best unsigned release I?ve come across this year, I was excited to hear what they?d come up with next and ?Fires Burn Dim in the Shadows of the Mountain? does not disappoint, Tully joining Doyle with spoken vocals and the band emitting huge galaxial space riffs that culminate in a quiet voyage to the unknown. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth have an intricacy that goes beyond doom groove into the pantheon of underground high aural art. It is a special coagulation of ideas, parts and atmospheres that is rarely pulled off so well.
Mico de Noche?s last release was 2007?s Cherries EP, and from what I recall of it, nothing really stuck. By contrast, the two tracks they donate to the cause on this split, ?Misanthope? and ?Ganges,? are memorable and dynamic. Faster than Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and more straightforward in their aesthetic, the vocals of Mike Crum and drummer Donovan Stewart feature heavily, as do Reno Dave?s guitar and Chad Baker?s bass. In fact, everything features pretty heavily. These guys are pretty damn heavy. Makes me want to go back and give Cherries another shot, but in the meantime, there?s the meth-Goatsnake aggression of ?Ganges? to tide me over — and with the break and tsunami groove that kicks in at two minutes, that?s a full meal in itself. The mix is especially forceful on Mico de Noche?s tracks, which sound clean but natural and cap off the split with an excellent blend of pissed off attitude and crisp metallic expression.
Two bands come together in praise of The Riff, The Heavy and The Whatever Else We?re Calling Stuff That?s Good This Week, neither side of this Mico de Noche and Brothers of the Sonic Cloth split is a miss. Both bands deliver superbly and if there?s any downer to it at all, it?s that the whole thing is over in just about 20 minutes. Bigger vinyl next time, guys.
Note: For non-vinylphiles or those who would simply iPodify, there?s a link included in the package to download the split. No extra charge.Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Mico de Noche, Seattle, Violent Hippy