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Hair Police

Mercurial Rites

[Type; 2013]

By ; February 11, 2013 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

It takes all of a minute and a half for the Hair Police of years past to resurface from the clangorous ooze that opens this new record, Mercurial Rites. After five years of radio silence, and with nothing more than a missive from the Type Records twitter feed, the Lexington, KY founded noise godheads unleashed their return on an unsuspecting music public. Lollapalooza appearances aside, their sludgy convalescence is the stuff of pure anti-social nightmare, with Mike Connelly’s death whisper the terrifying final brick in a menacing facade.

That first minute and a half, before Connelly (also on guitar duty) launches into his terrifying rasp, most evidently illustrates Mercurial Rites’ wild success. Noise releases, with Hair Police’s previous work as no exception, so often deal in intentionally confrontational bursts of high gain static. These blasts of noise are sledgehammers aimed straight for the eardrums and intellects, but subtlety and poise frequently become collateral damage. It’s a genre built on the visceral experience of horror and tortuous potential of pure sound that it so often comes at the expense of personal touch. But Hair Police, eschewing the feedback and hi-hat opening of their last record Certainty of Swarms, lets the cruciation of Robert Beatty’s textured electronics come to the forefront of this record. Both in the first couple minutes of “We Prepare” and throughout, Hair Police are content to lean on Beatty’s work.

“The Crevice,” which is no doubt home to some of Connelly’s most sickening gasps, is similarly reliant on Beatty’s synth bursts. These tracks find sonic brethren in the dubby darkness of Vatican Shadow or Demdike Stare more than in the post-hardcore full band noise of past Hair Police releases. But don’t take that to mean this is Hair Police’s attempt at fulfilling the noise-dudes-go-techno narrative. Hair Police find their ties to those aforementioned acts in their gloomy atmospherics rather than in any dancefloor roots. Mercurial Rites’s stays away from the temptation of four on the floor experimentation and its all the more woozy and unsettling for it. Take the utter blackness of those groups and take away their kick drums and you’re left with this terrifying groan of instruments pitted against one another. With this new emphasis on atmosphere, rather than utter punishment, Hair Police has managed to appreciably transcend noise conventions and create something far more foreboding.

These more passive but no less scary song fragments are punctuated by jump scares from Connelly, who recently quit his higher profile gig at Wolf Eyes to focus on Hair Police and his solo work. “The Scent”’s vocals are the handiwork of a man deranged. Single synth notes part the bleakness to make way for crazed ramblings into a distorted mic that run the gamut from homeless man on a street corner to mumbling psychopath and back again, all in the span of just five minutes. At it’s heart, this record most clearly bares the touch of Beatty’s electronics, but Connelly still manages to steal the show. His grand entrance on “We Prepare” is the stuff of noisenik wet dreams, tearing seams in terrorizing tapestries with a sub-Black Metal bloodcurdling rasp made up of equal parts blown out vocal chords and carefully pointed malice. His vocals collapse into animalistic barks on the closing moments of the title track, and he whispers his way out, the mumbling psychotic again, as if those outbursts never happened to begin with.

Hair Police have built their career on being loud, being in your face, as Wolf Eyes more sinister younger brother, but as Mike Connelly makes his move away from Wolf Eyes and further legitimizes the output of Hair Police in its own right its becoming clear that they stand above much of that disquieting output. Hair Police, for the first time, have demonstrated restraint and touch. Whether the work of Beatty or a collective effort to pull back and let some of the dust settle, Hair Police manage to make the most of their emphasis on suggestion and allow the noisier bits to take their rightful place as menacing climaxes rather than an overstimulating status quo. All that’s left for you to do is turn it on, then gradually curl up in a fetal position and cry.


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