Review: Shirts – Shirt Noise (Moon Myst Music, Sep 4)

I’ve been thinking about consumer fabric a lot lately. I was recently exposed to the horrors of the fashion industry’s environmental impact by some admirably committed friends, so I’ve become much more wary of where I buy clothes and other textiles (if at all) as well as what I do with them once they’re no longer wearable. To be honest, the only articles of clothing I ever really buy anymore are t-shirts, which are usually not produced via the most sustainable means, but do support the artist or independent designer. I’m not sure what kind of shirts that Shirts uses to produce their music; maybe they’re graphic tees or single-use throwaways or collared shirts or V-necks or weird thrift store denim shirts or cotton undershirts or blouses or some hodgepodge arsenal with every type you could think of, but it doesn’t really matter, since on Shirt Noise, ostensibly the project’s debut release, it all congeals into a homogeneous gunk of chunky, overblown distortion, presumably the result of contact microphones plugged into inputs turned up to the max. There doesn’t seem to be much processing, though; the restless tactile sifts are not run through many, if any pedals or other electronics, live or in post-production, and instead whatever dedicated, patient musician (or—although I think it’s unlikely— musicians?) is behind Shirts relies solely on the raucous rumble of muffled wrinkling, folding, crumpling, dragging, and thumping produced by their irreverent improvisations (I assume these are not composed pieces) with a generous helping of gain and brief but scary twinges of feedback. It’s noisy, but it’s also stuffy, claustrophobic, unsettling in its often overwhelming motion, hypnotic in its humble totalism. And it’s all shirts! Holy shirt!