Crate Skimmers 42 **** Wolf – March To The Sea

Owned since: 2012
Genre: ‘You must acquire a taste for freeform noise rock’
Where I bought it: Long gone distro
Year: 2010
Label/pressing: Skin Yard

Oh look, it’s a band name so offensive I can’t even type it here or i’m going to embed any videos off. Not the first and last time we will have this problem with my collection. From this point on I will just call the band Wolf.

From lovely Montreal, Canada, this band came from the modern art scene happening there. Just look at the wonderful cover of this record, it’s among my favorites, which just reeks of modern installation art that I enjoy a ton. It also perfectly fits the music. Wolf was/are on Skin Graft, who since the early 90’s have been the home for a lot of the more wild side of noise rock. Home to bands like Shorty, Dazzling Killmen, U.S. Maple and a bunch of Melt-Banana releases, they mostly work in the kind of very loud, very fast noise rock that seems to fall apart every minute. Music that most of the time sounds improvised, but also seems extremely controlled. The early to mid 00’s were full of these bands that seemed to take punk music to new extremes. On one side, you had the whole progression of ‘original screamo’ with bands like Blood Brothers and the bizarre grindcore flavor of The Locust and other Three One G Bands. Skin Graft has been doing that since the 90’s but still with bands like Wolf, UK’s Pre and new bands by old label people like Made In Mexico, it was a wave coming in that seemed less into insane rhythm combos and just sheer noise. Made in Mexico is the most normal of the bunch but their sound, which includes influences from Mexican folk music, really set them apart from Skin Graft’s normal output.

Pre will be covered later in the series, but they’re the band that got me into Skin Graft way back. More structured than Wolf, they still very much played in the same kind of abrasive noise rock music. The bands touring together also led to a bizarre split 7-inch; fashioned like a Russian bootleg, it includes two live recordings by each band and a calendar which includes ‘compromising photos, there’s nudity here’ of both bands. All in badly written English and Russian on the back and released by SINRAFT records which, well of course, is just Skin Graft. Good shit, but we’re here for March to The Sea which is tremendous and the band’s best effort.

Not to slag off their split with Athletic Automaton or their debut full length The Lovvers LP, which both rule also, but this is the record where the band really goes hell for leather. All kinds of pretense of even finding breathing room in songs is gone and it’s just an endless shriek of chords, vocals buried beneath them and drumming that sounds like someone destroying a kitchen. Which means I think it’s great, I’ve always been a sucker for this kind of manic noise rock that Melt-Banana kind of popularized in the early 90’s. But, where with some stretching you can call a lot of Banana stuff catchy or even songs, that is really not the case here. Just 13 minutes of full form mayhem and the B-side is completely taken up by a cover of Throbbing Gristle’s eternal noise classic Very Friendly refitted to rock band instruments.

It’s wild to hear Very Friendly not driven by Chris Carter’s insane synths, but man does the band make it work. A lot of loops, a lot of guitar pedal mayhem and singer Chloe Lum trying to escape the mayhem by trying to scream over it. It just keeps increasing on its unpleasantness without ever letting go. With the end just being driven by Lum’s vocals and the loud drumming beside waves of feedback. Just a record that is pure complete onslaught of noise and doesn’t let go of you for a single minute. 25 minutes feel like an hour in a good way. Also makes for great running music if you want to unfocus from everything around you. I know from experience. Wolf did just one record after this, 2011’s Ma Vie Banale Avant Garde, which was a double LP reaching nearly an hour and even more full of experimental mayhem. Luckily I got to see them on this tour with the great synth mayhem of Child Abuse, yep, from a pretty empty OCCII venue which was among my favorite shows of that year. Just complete mayhem and endless crashing chords that perfectly fit a live setting, making it even more in your face and bizarre. Most of the band works as artists these days, with Lum and guitarist Yannick Desranleau for example making the cover of MSTRKRFT’s god-awful debut The Looks and working under the name Seripop.

Great record. Fuck normal songs.