In Svbterranean’s Album Dissections, artists break down the construction and/or lyrical themes of their records track by track.
Tomorrow, October 5, experimental sound architects Gridfailure and Megalophobe will release their second collaborative album, Tasukete, via Nefarious Industries. Gridfailure’s Dave Brenner and Megalophobe’s Benjamin Levitt stopped by in this edition of Album Dissections to give an insight into the creation of this maddening work of noise. Check out what they had to say below.
David Brenner – Lyrics/Vocals, Guitars, Drums, Keyboards, Electronics,
Benjamin Levitt – Accordion, Electronics
DB: We didn’t even plan on this record… we were working on a different record and some of this shit got out-of-hand, so we segregated it into a separate wing of the testing facility. Here we get a gritty gutter groove going and then stab out our own ears as it burst into flames. When you’re basing your albums on sounds which most bands deem ready for the burn heap, it doesn’t take them long to spontaneously combust, yet we toss lit matches at Molotov Cocktails in our own pockets in this unwell tale of self-reflection that thankfully passes quicker than the writing process of the song’s lyrics. One of the guitar layers was named “Flaming Schecter” and the drum track was called “Dear Fuckhead” so we went with that one to avoid a confrontation with the guitar manufacturer.
I always hear everything, yet my cognizance is shot
Complacent with the insanity, it’s all I’ve got
Maybe I worry too much. Perhaps I do not
Fleeting memories of normalcy? I already forgot
David Brenner – Lyrics/Vocals, Guitars, Analog Synth, Electronics, Field Recordings
Benjamin Levitt – Drums/Percussion, Accordion, Electronics
Rob Levitt – Keyboards
DB: Wake up and implode; the intense seething of the day about to take place puts you in a kamikaze mindset that only accelerates as you merge into the workforce. Wrap that pressure into a fine concoction mixed 50/50 with the smell of burnt hair when you’re fresh out of give-a-fucks and serve that up on a chilled platter next to your own lobotomy. Daily dope for the dystopian cope. Shred… slowly.
Pressure. The pressure
The waiting. The weight
It breeds more hate
A pensive inflection
Where it goes; into Amygdala
Fear center; hyperactive expulsion
The pressure. The waiting
Pensive explosive expulsion. Denied
Pressure. The pressure
David Brenner — Lyrics/Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, Percussion, Effects, Field Recordings
Benjamin Levitt — Lyrics/Vocals, Electronics, Guitar
Rob Levitt — Drums/Percussion
BL: The last song to be recorded, after we’d picked Tasukete as the album title before we had this song in any kind of shape. It turned out to be overwhelming, disorienting, and torturous, which seemed right on for the title track. The harsh abstraction of Brenner’s noise lead-in gives way to some rhythm, but then before any structure can take hold, we get the keys and droning guitars coming in to bury it all. There’s a quality in the two vocal lines here that feels like they’re clawing each other trying break through the distortion, almost like they want to be understood, but they don’t, which is fitting for a cry for help in a language we don’t speak.
Lost my mind again
But it’s alright
It was only once
But it’s early in the night
Fuels this plight
Incinerate you all
Ignite the spite
By murdering me
We all end here
A lunatic fringe
On your fears we feed
Restraints are useless
When insanity bleeds
As the insane
By murdering me
We all end here
David Brenner — Guitar, Effects
Benjamin Levitt — Electronics, Bass
Sample from “Biological Testing of the Civilian Protective Mask Using Children of Servicemen”, United States Department of Defense Film, 1960.
BL: The working non-title that became a title. The Tempomatic is an old rhythm machine that I found in a pop-up instrument shop in Tucson. It looks like the base of an old blender and makes beautifully corny sounds. I sampled a couple, slowed and twisted them up until they achieved a Gridfailure-Megalophobic quality and then let them float just under the surface of the creeper sounds Brenner coaxed out of his rig. Pairing the track with a sample from a DoD training film about as old as the Tempomatic seemed fitting — a rhythm machine designed to accompany church bands and a government film written to be reassuring, both forgotten and ignored for half a century, unearthed and blended together to bring out an unhealthy dose of dread for our 21st century lives.
David Brenner – Lyrics/Vocals, Keyboards, Electronics
Benjamin Levitt – Accordion, Synth, Electronics
Rob Levitt – Drums, Effects
DB: So, we’re just crushing it at a free-jam session at The Compound; brother of Megalophobe, Rob Levitt, was present at this hammerfest, having an ill time slamming the new Simmons electric drum kit. He randomly kicks into a primal street beat of nauseating proportions; Brenner whacks on the keyboard like the pianist in Reefer Madness (not with the talent, just the insanity) to this cacophony… instant street meat. Levitt whams it with some haarp certified accordion boomers, I do like three straight takes of vox, then just layer them all in, and like everything we douse veil 50% of our errors in musicianship with an inferno of pedal effects/noise, amplifying the other half.
A traitor to my own kind, which is just me
Quagmire vortex existence. I see
Standing here beside myself
Can’t hide behind myself since I can’t trust me
Inside/outside I can’t hide
No time for pride when inside I’ve died.
A self-species saboteur
Peering out between the blinds
Hoping not to see me coming
Getting used to the smell of my own flesh once again
And every time you paint over the evidence
The fucking walls close in more
Nail shut the door
But should I lock myself in or out
Before I burn this whole place the fuck down
“Play Me A Jig Through The Corpse Of A Cyborg”
David Brenner — Keyboards, Effects
Benjamin Levitt — Analog Synth, Effects
Rob Levitt — Percussion, Effects
BL: The main components were recorded as part of the Compound jams with Rob on drums. It was a long track, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Messing around with a small section of Rob’s drumming, I looped it, and dropped the tempo. Played slower, the sci-fi harmonics surfaced, and an eerie melody suggested itself — we had no choice but to follow it. Ultimately, everything that didn’t sound like it was played on instruments hacked together from scavenged bits of dead robots on a near-future scorched Earth were cut. This isn’t as much a jig as it is a knowingly futile request to hear just one last happy folk song.
David Brenner: Lyrics/Vocals, Drums, Effects, Field Recordings
Benjamin Levitt: Lyrics/Vocals, Guitars, Effects
BL: An acoustic introduction to sustained anxiety. Floor toms beaten with abandon, obsessively repeated guitar loops, throat abusing imperatives to remain calm — what’s not calming about that? Recorded in the lounge outside of Brenner’s Compound recording studio, with both vocal tracks added later on, we stripped away almost all of the big electronics and amplifiers present on most of our other songs in favor of the physicality of acoustic instruments and tension. “Will it be okay?” Yeah, probably not.
Attempt to remain calm
Can you handle today?
Navigate to a safe place
Will it be okay?
You have held it off thus far
But this may be that day
The implosion of reality
The walls of sanity give way
Anxiety overruns lucidity
Rising tides of fear at bay
Take panting breaths of fainting hope
As we embrace this Panic Day
“Live Broadcast Seppuku”
David Brenner — Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Drums/Percussion, Electronics
Benjamin Levitt — Vocals, Accordion, Percussion, Electronics
DB: We ended the record with something that maybe should have led it off. This jazzy jam is sort of a television broadcast, assuring listeners that everything is fine, while the population devours their own faces amidst a fully anarchic melee. Imagine the TV broadcast in Night Of The Living Dead through the context of The Purge, while the broadcasters huff asbestos-meth and fire signal flares at one another. Ben does this radio show on KPISS.FM every Thursday at Midnight EST so I was like, “Yo, you have that voice, that chill shit. That, ‘everything is okay; everything is as it should be…’ voice. Do that.” He did that. The crew continued to feast upon each other. Fuck, is anybody still reading this?