Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Hot Victory's dual drumsets serve up some solid experimental beats

February 21, 2010

Hot Victory, Vol. 1I always feel awful when I clean out a box and find stuff I haven’t reviewed. This is sadly not an uncommon occurrence, given the impressive volume of releases that we somehow attain (I’m still convinced that someone’s going to come around and revoke my music reviewer card someday, telling me that I’m “informal” and “biased toward folk”). Unfortunately, the “oh snap, what’s this?” scenario was exactly what happened to today’s and tomorrow’s reviewees.

Still, it’s extremely interesting that I found Hot Victory‘s 7″ Vol. 1 when I did. Hot Victory is an all-percussion band, which makes it only the second all-percussion ensemble I’ve ever reviewed (the other one being Random Touch’s Turbulent Flesh, which I literally finished reviewing five minutes ago, but posted yesterday. Time gets all wacky when you schedule reviews for the future). Two all-percussion ensembles in one day? Righteous!

The first thing to note is that there were two drum sets represented in HV at the time of recording. There are also occasional melodic dalliances throughout and jungle sounds (monkeys! sweet!) on “Bungalow.” Hot Victory is less experimental than Random Touch, but by no means are they making beats to rap over. These are sound experiments in their own right. The two drummers play with syncopation more than they do polyrhythms (meaning they work as one unit, not two contrasting ones).

The B-side “Bungalow” is the slowest and most spacious of the three compositions. It has a consistent quarter-note high-hat throughout a majority of the track, making it the more recognizable and standard of the two sides. There is enough continuity to allow for mood shifts in the piece, including a thunderous climax that incorporates a grimy, distorted melody pulled from the depths of a dj table somewhere. For about a minute, the drumming locks in with the melody and it feels like a warped club rave. It’s pretty fantastic, as the minutes it took to get to that locked-in sound make the pay-off all the more exciting. This is a testament to the skill of the creators, that I don’t resent the first few minutes of the track, but instead see them as lead-up. Solid.

Track one of the A-side (“Beach”) is less entertaining, as it sounds like a marching band at a gunfight. There are some cool moments, but mostly it feels like a spastic freakout. The second track on the A-side (“Construction”) is relatively placid, having neither the souped-up groove of “Bungalow” or the attention-grabbing spastic moments of “Beach.” It’s neat, but it’s third place.

In addition to creative music, Hot Victory sports an awesome name, neat cover art and one of the coolest vinyls I’ve ever seen: clear with royal blue tye-dye. I’m going to hang it on my wall cause it’s so awesome. So, if you like experimental music, drum-heavy beats, or really artsy things, hook yourself up with Hot Victory on vinyl or on iTunes.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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