Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reviews :: Factums :: Gilding the Lilies

New double LP from members of Intelligence may be the most ambitious album to be released in years, and the shit'll shoot hot lead through your veins, too. Experimental, noise, garage, eleki, surf punk, tribal psych. You can't throw enough adjectives at these guys and hope to catch their meaning. So you look for consistencies in the material to maybe make sense of what you're hearing. Familiar drum/guitar rhythms, submerged vocal tracks that sound like they were recorded in the trunk of a car, driving south on I-10--waves in the distance, tires turning on blacktop, and the specter of the Manson family behind the wheel--and this withering electric guitar burn that picks up seemingly whenever these jokers just feel like being badass.

Factums :: Another Place

I'm not clocking these guys, but I'd say most of the tracks are coming in under two minutes, which means they're either trying to squeeze every penny out of their studio time, or they're trying to get Mike Watt's attention and maybe make his fucking face melt, or maybe all of the above and something more. It may not sound like it at first, but Gilding the Lilies is pop music. It's just way more concerned with the nature of sound and the human experience of that sound than anything else new coming out these days.

What they're able to accomplish with this format (long record, short tracks) is absolutely worth noting: long range and varied gestural experimentation, gestures that materialize and fade on the hard, flat surface of the band's practiced repetition. Gestures pointing to every influence and every contortion of those influences as they strain to find the next sound, or some impossible future for sound and, more importantly, pop music. This may not seem like an obvious point on listening alone, but it's maybe more plain from their name, factums. I don't feel like boring the shit out of anyone here, but I feel that the Factums may be the most important American band going right now for the very reason that every element of their songs is engaged in the disentangling of controversy, and they reorder the disarray of modern music by issuing an epic, double vinyl replete with musical statements of fact. The last time I had a listening experience like this one was when I bought two separate Sun City Girls collections on a whim, having only ever heard the band's name in passing. Shit, was that ever a brain-blasting experience. I think my roommates found me face down in my closet, bulbs broken in my room, resting on a pile of chicken bones...and incredibly I've lived to experience that sensation again.

Factums :: Near the Beach

 I'm not doing them justice, Assophon Records makes sense of the Factums sound this way, and I won't even try to do it better: 

This mythic release has been rumored and debated for some time and to say this is their crowing achievement is an understatement. Factums have been shrouded in mystery, rarely playing live -- this hermetic Seattle/Chicago combo have been releasing rustic/futuristic artifacts for a variety of labels over the last few years. On Gilding The Lilies, all the ideas come together: sci-fi surf rock, post-apocalyptic murder ballads, musique concrète anthems, hell, on Gilding The Lilies they even dedicate the latter half of this masterpiece to Far Eastern exotica and incorporate sitars and tablas. Yeah, this ain't no Beatles trip, it's a Factums take on their inner chakra or pith helmet exploitation or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

Factums cranked out a C45 tape last year that's apparently an abridged, reordered version of the Goliath pictured above, and that's what you're hearing from the linked mp3s in this post.  Whoever these guys are, I get the sense that they're sitting on a solid stockpile of effects pedals that they should pack up and take on the road with them. To have any idea of just what the fuck these guys are really up to, buy this limited one-time pressing from Forced Exposure while you still have a chance of getting any enjoyment out of  life.

By the way, pith helmet exploitation is now my new world view. I'm adopting it right now.


  1. there are no members of wet hair in this band

  2. Mama always taught me not to know too much about nothing. Don't know how you know what you know, but you consider this shit fixed.