Album Reviews

Godzilla Black – Godzilla Black

(Bandcamp) UK release date: 25 January 2010

Godzilla Black’s debut album is indescribably weird. If we follow Elvis Costello’s line of thinking when he said trying to write about music is like trying to dance about architecture, then finding pen-and-paper terms to discuss Godzilla Black is a bit like dancing to the tune of a Martian outpost being reduced to smouldering rubble amid some interplanetary nuclear scuffle.

What do we know about Godzilla Black? Erm… not much, really. They wear masks and jealously guard their identities. In the only discernable bit of exposition available on the wide, varied and over-utilised Internet, a mysterious figure named Uncle Ben writes this as an entry in a scant blog about the group: “It’s sometimes hard to divine fact from fiction with regards to Godzilla Black, such is the incorporeal nature of its existence. Only I know how many members comprise its hive mind at any one time.”

There are sniffs of ’50s communist-obsessed, red-scare surf guitars and organs, clicks and clacks of various abnormalities from the mad percussionist’s toolbox, the�buzzing of insects and the clatter of xylophonious wings, unsettling horror film soundbites, frantic tribal drumming, often mechanised and run through spooky filters. The lyrics seem to focus on the fringes of sci-fi nerdery, and dark corners they are indeed – corners in which the shadows have teeth, and the bumps in the night mean to kidnap you. The mix is awash and abuzz with discord and anxiety, creating an overall unsettling effect. But it’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.

On the album opener Fear Of A Flat Planet, roiling, sludgy synth bass introduces a veritable alien jungle of percussion, over which the singer – presumably male, but who the hell knows? – wails: “I’m the kind of girl that makes you want to get a sex change! I’ll make tomorrow feel like today is your birthday! My� body tells me when I want it in the worst way!”

Insect Day seems to discuss the real-life consequences of an insect plague on the lovelives of estranged teenagers. The lyric focuses on the importance of opening one’s mouth, so the insects – euphemisms? – can get in. Burning Wires sounds so computerised and off the rails that an impending encounter with the farthest, wildest edge of that fabled flat planet seems inevitable, and the falling that comes after seems not only terrifying, but strangely exhilarating.

Disease 1/I’ll Kill You If You Don’t is genuinely psychotic, comprised of frantic call and response drumming and frenzied, schizophrenic screaming, and warbling, distorted synth whistles. Amazing is a rare slow-jam, burning with patience through atmospheric, breathy synths, rattles and brushed jazzy drums before the vocals howl in baritone. The album closer, Enjoy Yourself, is industrial buzz-saw noisiness at its most unapproachable and nonsensical, but it wraps up the album’s harried runtime nicely.

Godzilla Black, in all their dizzying iconography – see the bizarre, naked astronaut woman gracing the album’s cover, and that spectral third nipple gracing the surface of the sun – are something you’ve never heard before. They’ve seemingly come from nowhere (or as Uncle Ben describes it, from “an old Evil Dead style shack, somewhere in Sidcup, Kent”), and they’re probably happy to swoop in like a pestilence, and anonymously drop an inspired and unsound album on us, only to disappear whence they came.

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