Slug Guts weren’t so much a band as they were a primal force of nature conjured up from the darkest recesses of a chasm in the Earth – guitars whipped and struck with the frightening intensity of sandstorms bearing down on you as drums rolled in from a distance like thunder warning you to run, and those vocals… it was like being torn apart by a cackling pack of starved hyenas. WHITE HEX, then, seems to be a measured response.
Comprised of ex-Slug Jimi Kritzler and vocalist Tara Green, the keyword to mull over when considering Kriztler and Green’s project is detached. Nothing contains the force of that other band, but that’s precisely the point.
Their debut, Heat, was an album set in monochrome, music relentlessly exploring a limited palette of emotional hues to find a strange middle ground between Sol Invictus and Wire; a sort of dirge-noir that unsettled but never completely riled. Gold Nights (Felte Sounds) doesn’t alter that formula in spirit, remaining fixated on maintaining a cold emotional response, but its execution is a radical departure. Shifting the emphasis away from guitar, the band finds itself moving towards minimal electronics. Album closer “Battleground” in particular is a strong indication that this change isn’t entirely unwarranted, the song a whirlwind of swirling synths and earnest crooning.
Another interesting development is the band’s newfound fixation on image. Press hyping the album is quick to reference the band’s love of high fashion while contrasting that with its desire to pursue the “mutant explorations” of avant-garde artists ranging from Whitehouse to Arthur Russell. Those explorations aren’t entirely reflected in the music itself. “Paradise” and “Sisters” veer too closely towards of-the-moment reference points as in the former’s swooning synth-pop worthy of a lesser Still Corners or the latter’s flirtation with Johnny Jewel’s brand of AOR disco. But it’s an intriguing mission statement for the band, one that could be further developed in later releases if White Hex were to follow the ideas they toy with on “United Colours of KL,” which filters its kitsch disco through a layer of grime befitting its screwed referencing of the true origins of Western excess, and the industrial reggae crawl of “Burberry Congo.”
Ultimately, the most admirable aspect of Gold Nights is its commitment to remaining at a distance. While it may make intentions toward pulling you in, “Paradise” is as friendly a single as you’ll find, there’s always an air of disquiet that prevents that. White Hex intend to make strange music, and they mostly succeed by never allowing you to be at ease with the sounds floating around you.
Genre/ Tags: Post-Punk, Electronic, Minimal, Synth Pop
Gold Nights LP: Tracklist:
1.) Only A Game
5.) In The Night
6.) United Colours of KL
7.) Burberry Congo
Heat 12″ EP (AVANT! Records)