Review: Shots – Private Hate (Careful Catalog, Aug 16)

The music of Shots—though, true, “music” doesn’t always seem to be an entirely accurate descriptor—takes the form of an unapologetic statement, an unanswerable question, an irreconcilable truth. Dan Gilmore puts it perfectly when he places the material on Private Hate in context with the album cover of Can We Win: “that thing was clearly embedded in broad daylight, defiantly real and on display as if to antagonize whoever saw it into coming up with an explanation.” Like that pink-clad, unsettling, uncanny valley-residing thing, Shots’ creations are modest yet unyielding in their impenetrability. As with past releases, the stabbing injections of erratically struck percussion and other trivial objects melds with whatever environment surrounds them, but on Private Hate the sense of place is more important than ever—in that the increased presence of location somehow makes the recordings even more difficult to define. We hear the distant hum of traffic and honking horns, rushing air currents that may be from concentrated wind or manmade vents, but there’s absolutely no sensory physicality to any of it, and we’re left floundering as we try to steady ourselves in a room with no floor. The conclusion of “PH1” is filled with empty space, but the abrasive squeaking and clangs of metal make that irrelevant as the listener is encased in a concentrated claustrophobia; it’s even more disorienting in “K&K,” where a distinctly human setting is challenged by concentrated contact mic scrabbling, any comfort that  familiarity might provide vacuumed out by this spacial distortion. As always, the sound itself is truly and purely sublime, but it’s not an easy beauty, and with Private Hate more than ever Shots prove their mettle in an area of abstraction that no one else seems to occupy.

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