Review: Mosquitoes – Vortex Veering Back to Venus (Feeding Tube, Sep 27)

U.K. avant-rock project Mosquitoes released one of my favorite albums last year with the Drip Water Hollow Out Stone LP, a brief but dense exploration into the radical deconstructions pioneered by seminal no wave bands like DNA and Mars. Comparisons to these predecessors are nearly inevitable when discussing Mosquitoes, but unlike many other instances of revivalist artists in this genre, they don’t aim to emulate or even to incorporate the styles of influential bands, instead focusing on furthering and paving new ground in this ongoing approach of fragmentary, convention-defying rock music. Vortex Veering Back to Venus shares the previous record’s brevity, clocking in at just over 20 minutes across six tracks, but its subversiveness is even more total. The hints of stuffy, oppressive darkness that lurked at the edges of Drip Water Hollow Out Stone now pervade every element of the band’s style, looming over the listener like the shadow of a spreading storm with razor-sharp percussion strikes as its lightning and lumbering, muffled bass as its thunder. The pieces are even less rhythmic than before—the most we get is a plodding bass drum throb, and sometimes not even that—and instead the drums often function as stabbing punctures in the thick atmospheres being woven, crashing through layers of crackling guitar noise and low-frequency hum. Sparser and more abstract still are the vocals, which sputter and shake somewhere quite a ways away from intelligibility. It all comes to a truly majestic climax with closing track “VS,” which is perhaps Mosquitoes’ finest work yet.