Review: TUSK – Cotard (self-released, Nov 21)

Not unlike Sidon Coleman’s The Box, which I reviewed last month, Mansfield, OH newcomer TUSK’s digital debut is an eclectic, slipshod collage covered in countless sets of one person’s fingerprints. Though the album’s title might imply its contents are more subdued or drone-based (in the vein of Depletion’s Cotard Delusion, perhaps), Cotard, despite most of it not being overtly abrasive or frenetic, feels shifty and paranoid, always either crawling toward the next sonic episode with plenty of furtive over-the-shoulder looks or writhing within the current one to the point of complete exhaustion. And “exhaustion,” it turns out, is the name of the game here; much like the altered perceptions of those diagnosed with its namesake disorder, this release is anemic, artificial, torpid, dead. The unnamed artist behind the TUSK alias wields a reasonably diverse repertoire in the form of guitar, drums, samples, and “guts,” yet each of the nine tracks is a tightly contained, often oppressively claustrophobic exercise in raw auditory minimalism. The beginning of “Basement Couch” is a misleading bit of bubbling brightness before we make our slow but sure descent below ground, where TUSK manages to scrape up the most lifeless of textures: limp thrift-store amplifier worship on “Fuck Around n Find Out,” barely audible bass frequencies on “Subconscious,” paper-thin trash electronics on the lengthy “Focus on Yr Inner Beauty.” While the whole thing is great, it’s the last few tracks that truly seem like something special, particularly “One More Stormy Night.” I am God and He is dead.

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