S.C.U.M., Plasto Beton, Religious to Damn

Jason Jackowiak

This week's Singles Collection is heavy on black trench-sporting synths and “woe is me” vocalizing, and we'd have to guess that at least a few of the folks cranking this out own Ian Curtis tees, but everything can't always been sunny guitar pop now, can it? With that, let's wallow into the proverbial muck.

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We dig our heels in this week with the debut single from the London five piece S.C.U.M. (named after Warhol shooter Valerie Solanas' manifesto/society) “Visions Arise” b/w “Second Sea” on Loog. What we get here, in a nutshell, are two artsy blasts of synth-mope with a very pronounced Factory Records influence (think early period Durutti Column). The A-Side bounds along on a rubber, Wobble-esque bassline before ranked masses of doomsday synths erupt out of the shadows like so many crazed stalkers. “Second Sea” is far more insistent, as caterwauling trash can rhythms form a bedrock for vocals that are redolent of Berlin-era Bowie at his most smacked-out, all before imploding into an incongruous Moroder-esque coda at the very end. Sold out at a lot of shops, but try Norman Records who should still have some.

Following that brace of rainy spit we've got Plasto Beton's opening salvo, a self-titled 4-song EP on SDZ Records. A brace of wickedly noisy French synth punk dirges fond of shitty drum programming and nicely acidic guitar leads from droogs that normally do time in A.H. Kraken and Feeling of Love. A band like A.R.E. Weapons is a good touchstone, especially for the lunatic barking and scuzzed oscillations of “A31” and “La Prison”, both of which sound dredged from some Metz dumpster where they located Martin Atkins sucking down week-old baguettes. Elsewhere, “Ete 1983” is gloriously stupid Atari-core that's more than a little danceable, and not in a sissy way like all that Kitsune crap, and closer “Hard to Kill” has a drooling Clock DVA feel to it, albeit one interrupted by sub-atomic machine gun fire and loads of ketamine. As of press time this is still available from the label and most of the usual distro suspects.

Finally this week, we've got the breezy comedown of Religious to Damn's debut single, “Falls Down Again” b/w “Mayflies” on the always reliable M'Ladys Records imprint. A spiritual cousin to labelmate Tamryn, this mysterious gypsy troupe (duo?) trades in gloriously blissed out gossamer pop that wouldn't have sounded out of place on 4AD in '84. The A-Side is kissed with scores of crying-sky synths and a gorgeously delirious deadpan vocal turn from leader Zohra Atash. Flip the wax and “Mayflies” wafts through your speakers with a mellifluous brace of electro exotica (think Martin Denney) topped off with some somber male vocals to create the kind of spectral duet that you'd always wished Kate Bush and Peter Murphy would have teamed-up for. Available now from the label and soon from your favorite local purveyors of the phonographic arts.

That's all we've got for this week, but come back again next time for some sunnier ruminations from a bunch of rabid Vancouverites. Door's always open and you know where to find us; on the couch with the laptop drooling over impossible-to-find gems on eBay.

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