AlbumsNovember 29, 20117,733 views

Pygmy Lush Bitter River


01. Nonsensical Tremor 02. Hurt Everything 03. Universal Order At 0mph 04. Slave To A Teenager 05. Big Black River 06. Send Bombs 07. Headless 08. Foul Mouth Mother 09. Red Room Blues 10. Malady Savvy 11. Hurt Everything 12. The Baptism Of Isa Lee 13. Send Bombs 14. The Boys Of Swift Creek Reservoir 15. September Song 16. Throw The Jockey
2007 Robotic Empire
Our score 8

by Cory
11/22/2007

Despite what seems like an endless string of vinyl releases this year, Robotic Empire hasn't been putting out a lot of full-length albums lately. While it might not be surprising that they'd release the debut from Virginia's Pygmy Lush considering that the band's members did time in two of the label's most memorable acts, Pg. 99 and Majority Rule, it is surprising what these guys actually ended up committing to tape. Few musical concepts go unexplored across the disc's sixteen tracks, which swing wildly from dark American roots music to surf-inspired garage punk without a moment's warning. Rather than cram these ideas together uncomfortably into half-baked hodgepodge songs, Pygmy Lush gives themselves the length of each song to get comfortable with whichever style they choose. The result may ultimately be disjointed but it works in the way a great mixtape can, with each song playing off the dynamics of those surrounding it. It might not be rare anymore to hear a band mess around with different musical styles but Pygmy Lush is unique in their ability to make each one work. Just over half of the disc's cuts were recorded with Converge guitarist and producer extraordinaire Kurt Ballou, who contributes a mean saxophone and slide guitar to the standout "Hurt Everything." The disc's remaining tracks were from two earlier sessions, one of which resulted in a single twenty-five minute atmospheric post-rock track that sounds like Godspeed You! Black Emperor meets Earth. Most of the disc's tracks though take their cues from Nick Cave, Isaac Brock or Tom Waits in their twisted interpolation of traditional stylistic elements into unique and occasionally bizarre new songs. The disc's opening, a Samuel Johnson quote popularized by the late Hunter S. Thompson, sets the tone for the disc's more visceral tracks. "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man" originally applied to those who drank to excess, but here it takes on a new meaning, seemingly describing the catharsis of discovering a more rudimentary side of expression. Here's the (potentially) bad news: If you're looking for something as sonically aggressive as Pg. 99 you'll be sorely disappointed. Pygmy Lush might be abrasive, volatile and even occasionally raucous but the majority of their music is fairly subdued. For every instance of screaming and screeching, there are three darkly beautiful passages. The sludgy power of "Send Bombs" is muted in the track's reprise barely ten minutes later. Despite the fact that it's the same track, both versions have their place on the record and work well to complement one another. In fact, it's a great window into the decision making process of the band, making it extremely apparent that many of these songs could just as easily have been barnburners as mellow, droning acoustic dirges. What makes Bitter River a real treat is that you essentially get it both ways as Pygmy Lush flips back and forth across the seemingly vast divide with ease. Bottom Line: Thanks largely in part to its refusal to fit into any one genre, Pygmy Lush's Bitter River is one of the most strikingly bold albums released this year of any sort. It's not necessarily the easiest listen but its blend of neo-folk, doomy screamo done right and expert arrangement guarantees a one of a kind listening experience. Like the past work of the band's respective members, Pygmy Lush's music isn't for everyone, but these guys keep up their own tradition of releasing rewarding, envelope-pushing music bound to find a devoted audience.

22 comments

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Nick_ 11/22/2007 9:38:18 AM

Ok, I'm ordering this, Cory.


anonymous 11/22/2007 9:50:16 AM

if there's one thing i dont care about, it's scene gays from scene bands branching out and attempting to create music that doesnt have a shelf life of 6 months. you played in a hardcore band. no one is taking you serious.


xtroyx_ 11/22/2007 11:54:32 AM

one of my favorite albums this year. everyone get this.


municipalgayste_ 11/22/2007 12:36:44 PM

this is a great release, well worth several listens.


strongereveryday_ 11/22/2007 1:20:21 PM

uhhh, if you're not going to listen to this because you think Pg. 99 and Majority Rule were merely "hardcore bands," and that this is some pathetic grasp at credibility....you need to be shot. Both those bands took tons of risks with their sound. Get a f*cking clue.


hotslutswithtits_ 11/22/2007 1:33:58 PM

if theres one thing i will never listen to, its an album i know cory has listened to and thought was good.


rocksteady_ 11/22/2007 2:10:46 PM

great band


dude_ 11/22/2007 7:17:17 PM

drink whiskey and listen to this record good review by the way


anonymous 11/22/2007 7:51:51 PM

scene bands? f*ck that gay


Fur_Beach_ 11/22/2007 7:52:41 PM

This is a great disc. really enjoyable and original.


Coley Thrash_ 11/22/2007 8:46:58 PM

I haven't seen something come out of Robotic Empire for a while.


cooder_ 11/23/2007 1:37:08 AM

if theres one thing i will never listen to, its an album i know cory has listened to and thought was good. posted by hotslutswitht-ts () on 11/22/2007 1:33:58 PM


everyoneonlambgoatisadumb_ 11/23/2007 2:41:59 AM

"scene bands"? I bet the weenie who said that loves the new Pig Destroyer.


xote_ 11/23/2007 9:38:22 AM

Thisn album is the shit. Ok review.


arty_mcfarty_ 11/23/2007 12:07:49 PM

another great review cory i'm checking this out right now


thetowerofrome_ 11/24/2007 5:25:07 AM

did that f*cking imbecile really state pg. 99 and Majority Rule as scene gay hardcore bands? wow.... you really need a music lesson or just a new brain


anonymous 11/25/2007 9:20:30 AM

only jerks and gays cared about either of those bands. not to mention they both sucked. overrated scene garbage. anyone who thinks differently has nautical star tattoos and wear sauconys


scenefaggot_ 11/27/2007 5:12:42 PM

im a scene gay, ive never heard of these bands.


anonymous 11/27/2007 5:35:12 PM

^^^^see, what more proof do you need?


Nick_ 12/5/2007 11:48:09 AM

Finally listened. This CD is pretty all over the place, but I like it for that reason.


Xcable XguyX_ 12/5/2007 2:58:52 PM

Just because some guy who recorded converge, who btw are just loud emo, mixed this shit only gives creedance to not by this album. BOO HOO my girl friend dumped me eternity comes falling, I watch animal porn WAAH WAAH.


Joe_ 12/11/2007 11:27:24 AM

f*ck You Cory