It’s probably fair to say that New England has experienced an underground renaissance of sorts. Over the past five years or so, the region has seen the rise of numerous bands that got people who paid attention excited about guitar music again. Notables include Quilt, Speedy Ortiz and Pile (or maybe half of Exploding In Sound’s roster). On the other end of the spectrum are the bands festering and flourishing in the basements, fermenting a weirdo art rock revolution in the most minuscule and focused sense. Here’s where bands like Great Valley, Happy Jawbone Family Band, Guerilla Toss, and nearly all of BUFU Records’ roster come in. They’re the sort of bands that, even if they eventually climb up from the underground, probably won’t experience mainstream success of the “Hey, Pitchfork gave us their stamp of approval!” kind. But I’m sure that all the bands that fall into this category still love the sweat and dinginess of basements and their own off-kilter music, regardless. So it’s only natural that members of outfits that fall into the noise art category would team up and form a prog-y, noisy, and veritably insane supergroup. That supergroup is called The Channels, and they are definitely veritably insane.
Comprised of members of Designer, Guerilla Toss and Aykroyd, The Channels combine the farcical alternative of Primus and the technical maelstrom of King Crimson, creating a sound that is wholly unique in its usage of instrumentation: two drummers, a guitarist and a bassist. The resulting music splits the two drummers into the left and right channels (maybe where they got the band name from?), and pushes the bass to the forefront, with the guitar spitting out dissonant gouts of aural phlegm into the dirt.
Their first release, Lo Fruit, was just released on cassette by Boston’s aforementioned BUFU Records. There are no song titles–instead, each tune is aptly assigned its track number as a title. It adds to the mystery of the group; instead of the album being a collection of songs suggesting themes with their titles, Lo Fruit becomes an album that actually needs to be listened to in order to gain a full grasp of its weirdness. “1” has that King Crimson derived sound, while the vocals sound like a nod to mid-’90s alternative via monotone vocal delivery and shaky harmonies. “6”—the correlating video for which is below the embed—is like a Primus deep cut, just with the added disorder of two drummers and even more erratic guitar work.
Lo Fruit is definitely not easy to digest, but it’s probably not supposed to be. The Channels are definitely a group set on making fun music that they like to listen to and play. And in doing so, they created an incredibly idiosyncratic and tactile album, one that’s never shy in doing whatever the hell it wants.
Lo Fruit is available on cassette via BUFU. Stream the whole thing below, and watch the video for “6” beneath the embed.