Review: Moth Cock – Whipped Stream and Other Earthly Delights (Hausu Mountain, Sep 2)

Of all the ruffianic stalwarts on Chicago weirdo electronics purveyor Hausu Mountain’s roster, Moth Cock have always been my favorite, perhaps in part because it was they who brought me to the prolific label in the first place, thanks to their split LP with Ren Schofield’s Form a Log back in 2016. Since then (and even before; 2014 full-length debut Twofer Tuesday and 2012 live tape Bremmy are among the very first releases) the irreverent Kent-based project of Doug Gent and Pat Modugno and their peerless brand of surreal, plasticine MIDI-jazz have both become a fixture of Hausu’s output and spread elsewhere, notably to Cleveland imprint Unifactor as well as leaking through several self-released, digital-only outlets. Nothing, however, could prepare even the most dedicated fan for the sheer breadth of Whipped Stream and Other Earthly Delights, an XR dose of the duo’s best and most adventurous work yet that spans three C70s and nearly three and a half hours. The previously NNM-reviewed (and still excellent) If Beggars Were Horses Wishes Would Ride was already a significant step up from the less refined early sound, but this is something else entirely, mashing together everything they’re already good at and a heaping helping of brand new territory.

For the most part, this album is surprisingly built on drones, in one way or another at least; I never thought I’d be comparing this band to Natural Snow Buildings in any capacity, but the lengthier tracks here really do remind me of some of Daughter of Darkness in the way they seem to create their own gravity, bending time itself with gargantuan weight. But if Daughter is a black hole, Whipped Stream is a rainbow dwarf star, or maybe a miracle singularity of all the world’s Casios, plastic horns, and old game cartridges. Opener “Castles Off Jersey” is an immediate illustration of all that bleeping, burbling color stretched by the expanse of space: meditative bowed-cello loops introduce a core coziness that persists even when slow-building entropy arrives in the form of strangled sax and ersatz bit-trips—listen to this one in the sun, if you can. The first tape closes with the (relatively) shorter “Leads to the Yellow Courts,” a stumbling trudge through psychedelic haze that feels much more traditionally Moth Cock, anchored to ground level by the humidity of tropical birdsong and sopping wet delay even as the smoke rises to the stars. Despite most, if not all of the material here being collected from Twitch streams and recurring local performances, it feels like an album through and through, and a temptingly replayable one at that, which might be more of a feat than if it were all recorded in sessions specifically for this purpose. It’s impossible to even pick a favorite cut; right now I’m all about the Black Dice–esque groover “Mineshaft Full of Caspers” and the immersive apocalyptics of “Take Two and Lose Your Phone,” but I guarantee that will change next listen.

Whipped Stream has already received well-deserved mainstream coverage from Pitchfork and other sources, so it should be a testament to its quality that I still felt it necessary to chime in. One for the ages, no doubt about that.