Lo-Fi Hi-Fives: A Faulty Chromosome

Launchpad graciously said I could post to this column a while back, and today is the day he may come to regret that generosity.

I stumbled on A Faulty Chromosome back in the heyday of the MP3 blog. Every few weeks I’d see what was trending on the aggregators, or make my own rounds to the individual blogs that had a record of featuring music that interested me, and vacuum up bushels of potentially-intriguing individual tracks.

Then I’d go through them one by one at my leisure; most would get immediately deleted as Not For Me, but a few would prompt me to investigate more work from the artist, which then might lead to a purchase.

(And, in the interest of full disclosure, I did on occasion keep some stray tracks that I liked from artists whose other work did not interest me enough to purchase. Slap the cuffs on me.)

In this way the short-lived era before the MP3 blog clampdown functioned for me much as terrestrial radio once had – it exposed me to music I might not have otherwise have heard, and I “taped” those songs I found interesting; then it drove sales for a handful of those artists as I then bought their records.

I’m not going to research the band for a thumbnail bio; in a weird way, the less you know going in, the better. I know they were from Austin, and are now defunct. I know that I really, really HATED the only record after this one (Craving to be Coddled So We Feel Fake-Safe) as Way Too Twee For Me.

I’m not going to do lyrical analysis; it’s murky as heck, and the words are not as important to me as the sounds here. Occasionally a clear line arises from the stew, usually a chorus, and that’s enough for me.

(Here’s a little interview, if you do find you want to know more.)

But on As An E-Anorexic’s Six Sicks Exit,… they did almost everything I want a record to do. It’s a record overflowing with ideas and sonic invention, not all of which seem as though they should fit together in that “early-recordings” way, but still somehow mesh into something coherent and catchy and haunting.

Overall the record is playful, but occasionally mournful; as though marking the transition from the wonder and brightness of childhood, into a world more tinged with darkness and loneliness and loss. Fans of Animal Collective will likely find something to like here.

It’s shambolic, kitchen-sink dream/noise-pop, and I can’t get enough. “I just like to be in love”, goes the chorus of the very first song, and indeed I am with this strange, melancholy little record that never got the ears it deserved, IMO.

You ready? Let’s go!

0:00 “Them Pleasures Of The Flesh” – This was the first track of theirs I heard, and they throw you into the deep end right away. This track has it all – the main vocal sounds a little like a narcotized Frank Black (an impression reinforced by the Biblical-gothic overtones of the title); the song keeps layering in noises from a relentlessly-thumping heartbeat of a kick drum and chimes and squiggly static, to a Peter Hook-ish bassline, to a startling headphones-ping-ponging guitar riff, to droning, sighing chanted vocals reminiscent of The Beta Band or cLOUDDEAD. There are more interesting ideas in this song alone, than the entirety of most bands’ debut albums.

4:49 “Anomie’s The Enemy” – A chugging number based around another Peter Hook-ish octave-leaping bassline, but I think he’s been doing whip-its.

9:35 “What?” – starts with field recordings of voices and childlike sounds reminiscent of something Bradford Cox might put on an Atlas Sound record. And then: the saddest melody in the world.

14:04 “Jackie O” – Improbably, a John Mellencamp cover, but you’d never know it. Simply wonderful pop music. Do yourself a favor and look up the “O”fficial Sun-Drenched Video on YouTube, it’s terrific.

16:49 “A Frozen Lake” – Bleeps and bloops its way through its chorus.

21:28 “Bad Thing” – A speedy little pop number.

24:24 “This Is Far From A Belle Epoque” – Another melancholy one.

28:22 “Eyes. Foreign Eyes.” – And even MORE so, gettin’ us in trouble again.

32:43 “The Loneliness Of The Short-Distance Walker” – Pure pop. This reminds me of the Russian Futurists.

37:05 “I’ll Stop Swimming When I Drown” – the longest track on the album by far at nearly 9 minutes, this drones and thrums and throbs its through a chorus that’s either suicidal or defiantly life-affirming, depending on how you want to read it.

What’d y’all think?