3 out of 5
Produced by: Luke Wood (engineered by)
Conceptually, I’m totally down. I mean, Bruce Russell’s liner notes are surely over my head, but the high level pitch of a deconstruction / rediscovery / study of the modern “single” through a dated limitation (3-minute runtime of a 78 RPM single), an “old” format (I mean, check your era, as the kids love vinyl nowadays, but I get it), and via “dated” analogue, patchwork instruments, as told through outre stylings of a Dead C member and a release befitting the VHF catalogue… yes, absolutely, I’m here.
And there are some great sounds on this thing, which finds its way to some really revelatory weirdness on its “R” side, after the “V” works through some soundalike minimalism for a few tracks, but this is also a form over function exercise a bit, which can tend to happen with such rigorous “THIS IS WHAT THIS MUSIC IS ABOUT”-type projects. Capped out at a little over three minutes, Russell and fellow performer Luke Wood have little opportunity to expand on some of the interesting sounds they create here, ranged across turntable scratches and clattery percussion and, I dunno, harmonicas, and whatever else. It works as an intro – the dusty, slow stomp of Via Suez – but trying to isolate it thereafter, in a “traditional” single format, either lends itself to a sense of restraint, or, once we start to get a bit louder and creakier on latter tracks, prevents the sound from hitting a full-on stride.
The songs do build on themselves in this sense, things feeling like they loosen up more and more for the two notable concluding tracks: Estonian for its atonalness, and Mobile Index for having an internal ebb and flow the duo didn’t have room to add to the other songs. This build makes Visceral Realists sequenced like an album, which kinda sorta feels like it goes against the plot to make singles, but I’m sure this is all coded somewhere in the liner notes.
Keeping with the meta commentary, I’d call the album very listenable and definitely interesting, but ultimately fleeting – too brief and ephemeral to make it worth the effort to consistently pull out the vinyl and put it on, and maybe that’s intended as a nod to the often disposable nature of singles…