Review: Micro_Penis – Süra Wald (Chocolate Monk, Sep 24)

In addition to having one of the most difficult-to-explain—albeit quite representative—band names, French quartet Micro_Penis are notable for being one of the finest outlets for contemporary imaginings of the art brut tradition, spewing spittle, shit, and semen across four superb LPs and a previous Choccy Monk release over the course of the past decade or so. Süra Wald isn’t “new” in that it was recorded back in 2010, but it is the first excretion since 2019’s La Maison de la Justice, and any sign that these four lunatics might still be active as a unit is just fine with me. It turns out that the CD-R, besides being an archival unearthing, does some looking-back of its own; the material was recorded over two days at the exact same locations used for Peter Brötzmann and Han Bennink’s 1977 collaboration Schwarzwaldfahrt.

Brief opener “Air Crash Bodies” not only waddles the gamut of the various tools used for the session, EYE-esque belching gullets and DIed field recordings and choked, gasping horns; it also introduces the presence of a rare subtlety in the group’s approach. It’s more reserved and gestural than usual, sparing improvisation rather than coagulant collage or pell-mell hell. An appropriate choice given the inspiration, and in fact the foursome continues to tag their inimitable forebear-pair in various ways throughout the eight tracks: Spenlehauer (I think?) rips some fierce, invigorating sax flatulence in “Soufflé”; half-assed hand percussion trades space with huffs and hocked saliva on “UNGG”; the wet gargles of “HWGCR” pay homage to Schwarzwaldfahrt’s infamous stretch of instrument-aided bubble-blowing. And then there’s “F Mortes,” which is just a fucking masterpiece—I hope any residents with the misfortune of living within earshot were compensated accordingly. Though it’s not anywhere near as terrifying or intense as the self-titled or Tolvek, just like any of their releases Süra Wald reminds me how much I love this band, how they can constantly have me spellbound and dying laughing at the same time. Ignorants and stupidos unite.

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