Efrim Manuel Menuck

Exclaim! - - REVIEWS - DY­LAN BARNABE COLE FIRTH

knack for pac­ing, and Cura flows ef­fort­lessly from start to fin­ish as it winds its way through myr­iad styles, rang­ing from R&B to clas­sic hip-hop. (Dim Mak, www.dim­mak.com) METAL

Piss­ing Stars

Whether it’s his wail­ing, screw­driver-in­duced gui­tar tone in God­speed You! Black Em­peror, or his ar­rest­ingly naked vo­cal per­for­mances in Thee Sil­ver Mt. Zion, Efrim Menuck is a con­juror of dis­tinct sounds. Al­though th­ese projects were suc­cess­ful as col­lec­tives, Menuck’s pres­ence is pal­pa­ble to dif­fer­ing de­grees in both of them, and his con­tri­bu­tions to in­no­va­tive Cana­dian rock mu­sic can­not be un­der­stated. His de­ci­sion to record un­der his own name for 2011’s Plays High Gospel was, in some ways, a con­tin­u­a­tion of the more open and per­son­able ap­proach of the Sil­ver Mt. Zion project. Al­most seven years later, Menuck has re­turned with another col­lec­tion of neb­u­lous com­po­si­tions that carry a much more fore­bod­ing at­mos­phere than the hym­nal evo­ca­tions of his solo de­but. Al­though he cites the brief re­la­tion­ship be­tween Saudi aris­to­crat Mo­hammed Khashoggi and Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion per­son­al­ity Mary Hart as the in­spi­ra­tion for Piss­ing Stars, this nar­ra­tive is not im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous. Th­ese songs are built around dense drones, warped gui­tar loops and scat­ter­ings of noise that are si­mul­ta­ne­ously en­tic­ing and in­tim­i­dat­ing. His singing is heav­ily pro­cessed, for the most part, and when his lyrics are in­tel­li­gi­ble, they are the­matic and oblique. A GY!BE-like vo­cal sam­ple crops up on the grim in­ter­lude “Kills v. Lies” and his son pro­vides the cul­mi­nat­ing re­frain on open­ing track. “A Lamb in the Land of Pay­day Loans” is the clos­est Menuck gets to the sound of High Gospel. It fea­tures a skip­ping drum ma­chine, blurry vo­cal lay­ers and a gor­geous bil­low­ing sheet of gui­tar fuzz that makes for the warm­est four min­utes on the record. The one track that makes di­rect ref­er­ence to Khashoggi and Hart, on the other hand, is en­tirely in­stru­men­tal, con­trast­ing choral pads and swoop­ing ef­fects with high-fre­quency elec­tron­ics. Menuck’s pro­cliv­ity for splashes of care­fully sculpted melody can still be heard in the cas­cad­ing syn­the­siz­ers of “The State and Its Love and Geno­cide,” as well as the fa­mil­iar ma­jor-chord pro­gres­sion that an­chors the ti­tle track, but over­all, Piss­ing Stars

plays like a text that in­vites reread­ing and re-de­ci­pher­ing. It is in­ti­mate and alien­at­ing; friendly and mys­te­ri­ous; and, most im­por­tantly, a whole lot of eerie fun. (Con­stel­la­tion, cstrecords.com)

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