Review: Connive – Connive (Reserve Matinee, Feb 18)

Connive’s self-titled cassette begins with the unmistakable sound of a recording slowed to an extremely low playback rate, a dissective yet messy element that is perhaps in line with the strange low-res artwork on the cover (I can’t even tell what medium was used to create it). But Michael Stumpf’s new project (he has previously released cassettes on Reserve Matinee and other labels as Esper Werm and Faithful) doesn’t waste much time before immersing the listener in what we’re all here for: massive waves of churning harsh noise. The way the dense currents spread and unfurl is very much reminiscent of beloved noise band C.C.C.C., whose celestial, psychedelic maelstroms saturate the entirety of whatever venue in which they’re performing; yet something about the distortion on Connive keeps it more grounded than that—in a good way. This is especially apparent once we get to “Senseless Carnage,” which swaps the full-bodied crunch and squall for a skull-rattling low register rumble that constantly seems like it’s about to shake itself apart. And eventually, that’s exactly what it does: the teeth-grinding oscillations top out with broken peaks that sound like a broken PA’s deafening swan song. The relatively brief “Cheek of Sorrow” isn’t the cathartic mess of screeching feedback and contact mic abuse I was expecting from its being described as a “classic Midwest basement banger,” but it is a nice respite before the eclectic insanity of “Contaminated ‘by the barracks and the sacristy’.” This is a promising debut for Stumpf’s new alias, a concise slab of guerrilla noise that basks as much as it blasts.