Review: Sugar Pills Bone – Is This My Husband’s Cemetery? (Bad Cake, Sep 25)

It’s always a delight to see young bands grow. Thanks to a lucrative grant from the Global League for the Optimization of Burpwave (G.L.O.B.), the scruffy ruffians of Sugar Pills Bone have added an immense arsenal of new, mostly fictional music-making tools to their arsenal for their new tape Is This My Husband’s Cemetery?: the dysphonometer, scrotumpipes, weasel teeth, ladles, air keytar, armadillotar, badgermin, and many more. The music, as always, manifests in the delightfully sloppy form of “plunderphonics” that the group has made entirely their own, this time seeming to rely on more pure sample-collages than ever before. Across sixteen bite-sized tracks, one trips, slips, and slobbers all over an unyielding current of heavily manipulated speech, plasticky stretches of fast-forwarded tape, pop songs chopped and ground into unrecognizable giblets, infrequent but always-unidentifiable field recordings, and more. The proceedings also coagulate into something more narrative than past releases Lumb and Slack Babbath Plays Peep Durple, albeit in a very distant and surreal sense. There are temporary characters who seem to advance similar topics or themes, conversations artificially spliced to create newly inhuman interactions, and the consistent presence of news bulletins and other familiar cultural or historical markers makes one feel as though they’re witnessing something actually happen, even if it’s nearly or completely impossible to decipher what that “something” is. The simultaneous conceptual absurdity and purely musical/textural appeal in this ridiculous project’s creations, especially this one, is something I truly value and enjoy. It also, I think, makes a case for my belief that the humorlessness of experimental music as a whole has been tremendously overstated and misframed. In any artistic medium, humor is not something to either vacuum out or forcibly, and therefore awkwardly acknowledge, but instead a useful—ultimately unnecessary, yes, but useful—flavor to harness within your work to the extent that you so choose. It augments, structures, changes; it does not taint or reduce or trivialize. Humor is also not an element that should be considered a gimmick or entirely context-based—I’m certain that even if Sugar Pills Bone’s releases were distributed without any sort of outlandish verbal preface, bizarre track titles, or colorful artwork, they would still be hilarious, because, as is always the case, the observer ultimately generates their own meaning (and their own laughter).