Despite the abrasive title (which seems somewhat reminiscent of the garage band “Cumstain” in equalizing linguistic depravity with fantastic jams and vocals, which make their presence known by sticking to everything like gum on a shoe), the final product here induces a much more majestic and calm feeling, providing his best release to date.
Henri Bergson once suggested that aspiring writers and amateur creative entrepreneurs should be offered grants to persuade them not to create. I doubt a grant would have kept a tsunami of this magnitude from unloading itself on peer to peer networks, bootlegged CD-Rs and mass retail markets. This is a definitive piece of work which liberates music from the steadfast possession of definition, to use Eli Khamarov’s words, by being able to transcend the genre grass markers.
This record has been eagerly awaited by myself, since I first heard the biting dissonance of “thrush” and “motherfucker”, as a seventeen year old stuck between cultural vampirism and not having an identity of my own. It really spoke to me without having to provide aphoristic maxims, or decoding the meaning of anything. In essence this was comparable to Hegel without realizing it.
This record is essentially a conglomeration of four years work since “Cleaning the Mirror”, which has accentuated through a series of 7 inch bombs here and there echoing the true versatility of Kevin Failure’s musicology. For example “Winona”, a depressive straight-jacket of a song, played host to “Give Yerself Away”, a seemingly more playful affair. These bullet points were elongating by an appetite with songs which had the same raw, virulent melancholia and guitar creme as the debut LP.
This record opens with a spirituous dance hall sound of early morning raves with looping drum and bass-like montages, providing a backing to very catchy repetitive lyrical hooks. It’s a fantastic opener which perfectly secedes into “I Just Leave” described by another reviewer as ending on an “elliptical banjo instrumental”, a song which is emblematic of the whole record with its experimentalism, candy floss blasts of unintelligible noise and very catchy pop sensibilities. The banjo appears once more on the preface to “You Can’t Win”, creating a Sir Richard Bishop or Hala Strana feel, percolating throughout the entirety. It also sounds like the beginning of any Big Blood CR-R in recent memory and I keep expecting to hear Asian Mae howling from the distance somewhere.
“Sixteen Years” has a long instrumental which for me is the highlight of the entire work. It’s loud, gritty, sentimentally uncompromising, canonically depressing in the right mood and at the same time energetically saccharine in providing opportunities for bad dancing, akin to The Wedding Presents’ “Take Me”, which used to have me jittering all over my room in very uncool positions. It opens lightly and explodes like a firecracker.
The same reviewer from earlier describes the title in a somewhat philosophic way by noting that shit is often used as a fertilizer to create life and in a sense the major theme of this work is a rejuvenation of waste into beauty and failure into success. It questions the fundamentalist definition of artistic and since we are on the topic of shit, it ought to question our waste disposal methodology too!
The reviewer also discusses how the album cannot be disintegrated and defies explanation or tagging or influence distillation. Yes I agree with the hypothetical notion that a piece of work cannot be disintegrated into snippets in principle and I agree with the comedian Stewart Lee who thinks Twitter is rather dangerous in the way it views artists and performers as content creators. Work deserves to be sampled within the continuity of its origin particularly when regarding albums which crave that linearity, but when it comes to music, the artist has a large degree of liberty when it comes to constructing and texturing the length, content and layers of work. “Try and dissect it like an owl pellet and you’ll give up in frustration” it says. However, I feel like dissecting something and reconstructing it is part of the fun and is not impossible with a record like this, which is not mind bendingly esoteric that it defies listening to in one session. That is what we do with records anyways, we deconstruct the content and add in our own prejudices and experiences to the context and make them our own. Music is very egalitarian in that sense. How many people within a relationship have a “song” which perfectly exemplifies that relationship in their mind? I am sure there are numerous people now playing Penny & The Quarters’ track “You & Me” and ascribing it as their “song” after Blue Valentine.
I think this is a good thing and certainly encapsulates why music is so meaningful to the populous at large. “Shit in the Garden” is a great record and may end up being on hundreds of “best of” lists ending the year. The songs do not have an animist life force, but they do fucking rock. They will not keep me up at night contemplating much but it sure does make you feel something, which is the role of art at large in my opinion.
Holding On –
I Just Leave –
Sixteen Years –
Written By: Degarmo
My Rating: 9/10
Genre/ Tags: Noise, Lo-Fi, Experimental, Pop
Shit In The Garden: Tracklist:
1.) Holding On
2.) I Just Leave
3.) Sixteen Years
4.) Cranes Are Flying
5.) Here On In
6.) You Can’t Win