Review: Pool – Hard Labor (Makeshift Encounters, Jan 16)

Pool, the ragtag unruly electronics quartet from Providence that features musicians such as Ren Schofield (Container, Form a Log) and Eric Grieshaber (VOSP, Soft Target), is one of those modest units that doesn’t make any hullabaloo over either their materials or processes despite the music being presumably freely improvised (which, as many of us know, is often enough to engender decades of arcane academic writings and insufferable artistic elitism). Instead, the noisy, multifarious transmissions the band generates are better thought of as “hard labor,” which is also the title of their most recent release, a CDr from local Rhode Island DIY label Makeshift Encounters: there are few ways to ground these dense rackets of sparking electrical chatter and metallic din in any sort of familiar image besides the hyperactive industrial cacophony of a bustling construction site. The cover art, I think, illustrates the paradox that arises from the clash between the confined, intimate domesticity and clattering activity that Hard Labor evokes in equal shares with its depiction of what is most likely the aftermath of a fierce battle with a clogged shower/bath drain (the tool pictured is a plumbing snake)—a meeting of the bodily and the external that is disturbing for reasons beyond detached human hair just being gross. The single half-hour-plus track is a piddling phantasmagoria of junk, trash, and grime, everything you’ve shoved into the farthest corner of the garage or scraped off the bottom of your shoe lovingly molded into a nonrepresentational sculpture that would leave any four-year-old’s backyard art project in the dust.