Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Smoke Jaguar - Live at the Halt 
Artist: Smoke Jaguar
Album: Live at the Halt
Label: Nyali Recordings
Having just moved to London, it's been a while since I last wrote. The whole process of packing my room into a car and unloading it in an unfamiliar place has taken up a lot of time. Taking the past two weeks to adjust to my new surroundings and to socialise with groups of new people has also meant that I haven't been listening to as much music as I usually do, so instead of sharing something I just found out about, I thought I'd share something which I've been listening to for some time already.
Smoke Jaguar is a Glasgow-based guitar-duo specialising in reverberating layers of noisy fret scrambling and squealing feedback. I think that the best way to describe it, would be like an even more densely heavy interpretation of metal than Boris' Boris at Last: Feedbacker, working largely from the same palette of excessively distorted and reverb-drenched, but removing any sense of a consistent attention to rhythm. Instead, Smoke Jaguar take these obvious Japanese psych influences and carve a line from them to more British-sounding harsh noise, keeping true to the guitar-heavy setup of the former.
While it's definitely not an exaggeration to say that the Smoke Jaguar is overloaded, extremely heavy and atonal, their sound is also very pure, with minimal effects being used and the focus undoubtedly being on the interplay between the two instruments and amplifiers. The pedal-twiddling tendencies of so many in the noise-fold is completely eschewed on Live at the Halt and as a result, the album sounds more energetic, like pure electrical forces bouncing back and forth between the performers and their instruments. And this certainly isn't "harsh" in the sense that it aims for aural discomfort either; Live at the Halt is a subtle beast, revelling in the delicacies of the two instruments throwing harmonic drones back and forth between one another like fire-spitting dragons.
A real rollercoaster-ride of a performance, the duo begin by trading-off feedback screeches before dropping into a more structured droning passage, at which stage something that could be very loosely described as a riff begins and a drumkit drops in for the middle-section. Then the droning gets a lot more intense, with both guitars descending into monolithic low-end noise-machines, before a Scotsman shouts "You've got balls" at the band repeatedly to round things off. And if that's not a good reason to buy this, then I don't know what is.