Black Pus, the solo side project of drummer, vocalist, and visual artist Brian Chippendale, who faithfully brings the thunder as one half of Providence, Rhode Island’s native noise-rock duo Lightning Bolt, is a minimalist, electronic-influenced distillation of the stalwart percussionist’s earsplitting clamor. Black Pus’s 2011 album, Primordial Pus, was more or less a lo-fi, screechy continuation of the sound heard on Lightning Bolt’s so-so Earthly Delights, but Chippendale seems to have come into his own on sophomore effort All My Relations, finally recording in the comfort of a legitimate studio with a treasure trove of sonic embellishments at his disposal.
Chippendale plays with his new tools quite a bit on the album’s opening track, “Marauder,” a laboriously layered compendium of aural flourishes supported by a looped stringy backbeat that booms and snakes alongside his nonstop pounding. It’s this constant serpentine vibration that acts as a perpetual stand-in for the pulsating basslines of Lightning Bolt’s Brian Gibson. Chippendale has been known to sneak punk-inspired structures into Lightning Bolt’s songs, and now that he’s going it alone, that tendency has multiplied. The powerful, tumbling triptych of “Fly on the Wall,” “1000 Years,” and “Word on the Street” demonstrates a slightly more straight-arrow, less fuzzed-out approach to Chippendale’s undulating psychedelics. These songs are almost danceable in their dedication to maintaining a stable thump, flowing without many of the bumpy, strident patches that highlight Lightning Bolt’s discordant aesthetic.
There’s a clear change of focus on the album’s back end, as the trippy, scatterbrained battle cry “Hear No Evil” leads into a pair of epic tracks that together approach the 17-minute mark. The erratic “Nowhere to Run” takes no prisoners, harshly drilling its insistent, jagged tempo, while the stunningly volatile closer “A Better Man” dramatically shifts tones, nearly grinding to a complete stop before speeding up again in a torrent of robust thunks fraught with reverb. It’s all quite a bit to take in, and All My Relations is an admittedly exhausting listen from start to finish. Still, those who find a bewitching warmth in Lightning Bolt’s dissonant compositions will have much to savor in Chippendale’s one-man showcase of elaborately temperamental tunes.
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