Review: Nagual / Tongue Depressor Split (Pidgeon, Feb 22)

Both sides of the new split tape by Connecticut-based duos Nagual and Tongue Depressor are abrasive in a way that is somehow not off-putting. The noisy, clattering guitar and effect interplay between Nagual’s David Shapiro and Ian McColm is chaotic, violent even; but it’s also inexplicably warm, and magnetic. The way these musicians sculpt string buzzes, rattles, angular notes, and hypnotic loops into detailed soundscapes is truly amazing. Tongue Depressor’s side, composed of fluid violin and fiddle drones performed by members Zach Rowden and Henry Birdsey, is equally dense despite its sparser palette. You can almost hear the resin crumbling off the bows as they are mercilessly dragged along the strings, giving the lush harmonies a jagged edge. I’m undoubtedly reminded of the organic pieces of the Dream Syndicate, but Rowden and Birdsey are not concerned with “eternal music;” near the end of the track, the notes dissipate, and we are left with jarringly percussive bowing that builds to a noisy conclusion. A fantastic showing from both artists, and thanks to Pidgeon Records for putting it all in a nice package.