Noise music is a logical response to the present moment—how do you process America? How do you respond to pervasive violence and national despair if not by smashing a sinewave and screaming yourself hoarse?
Cities Aviv‘s latest, Your Discretion is Trust, got picked up by Geoff Rickly (former Thursday frontman, United Nations / No Devotion) for release on Collect Records—a fitting home for Discretion‘s dystopic punk. War All the Time came out twelve years ago now but war continues to be all the time and Collect praises the record for capturing a zeitgeist of “identity politics, civil unrest, and the culture of resistance.”
If Cities Aviv records feel unapproachable it’s because they don’t give anything away, instead rewarding listener investment. The tracks are brief Dilla-esque sketches that owe little to linear time, jumping into and out of ideas without cushioning or sentiment. Synths throughout the album tend to cut off equally abruptly, giving little sonic padding to lean into. The titles are explicitly political (“Act Up”, “No GMO”, “Discrimination”, “Black Sequence”) but the content is abstract—affective analogues to hashtag semiotics.
Track by track, Discretion is darker and more pared back than most other Cities Aviv records. “Act Up” starts the record in a familiar way—sugary samples paired with Gavin Mays’ hoarse yelling—but immediately gives way to minimal, clean production on “No GMO”. The vibe throughout the album shifts back and forth between weariness and defiance, the collecting and shedding of control. “Is This Alright” is oddly romantic. “Discrimination” is easily the most powerful—Mays sounds nothing but tired when he brings up “streets of rage” but his snarling call-out “try me and we can meet in the street” is a cool highlight.
“Communion”, “Puncture”, and “Nico (Interlude)” each dissolve further into abstraction, so when “Isolation Quarters (Juk)” kicks in with a legible rhythm and multiple instrument channels, it somehow scans like a pop song. When the closer “Survival Fit” explicitly asks “how does it feel / taking control of your life?” it’s not a question meant to have an answer. What does it mean to have self-control in a controlled environment? How do you exist as an autonomous body within networked biopower? If the driving energy of the album is the tension between fighting and futility, “Survival Fit” is both: it ends the album both desirous of survival and dismissive of agency, Mays repeating: “live freely til we sleep in those boxes.”