Brooklyn's dynamic noise-rock duo Blues Control scored a killer review on Foxy Digitalis yesterday. For those in the greater NY metropolitan area, check out some live blues with Rahdunes (Emperor Jones) tonight and tomorrow.
09/13 Annandale-on-Hudson, NY @ Bard College (w/Rahdunes)
09/14 New York, NY @ Cake Shop (w/ Rahdunes)
09/19 Brooklyn, NY @ GlassLands
In a homemade submarine below the surface of a tropical sea Blues Control lurk. They have managed an escape from the expectations associated with any prescribed sound or scene. Many bands over the years have been eager to take their “rock” to outer space, but as you can see Russ and Lea have opted for something different, instead of putting the tin can into the cosmos, they lowered it into the sea. I know what you are thinking “The cover of this album contradicts everything you are saying,” but perhaps none of us have just never gone deep enough in the sea.
Deadened hypnotic loops of percussion push their fuzzy low-end frequencies through beaten old speakers, the only sonar the good ship Blues Control needs. The prerecorded magnetic tape that sets the course are soaking wet and the beats sound as if they are being pounded out on a damp cardboard box drum set. Reminiscent of the steady rhythm that would be found holding down an epic side-long psychedelic rock compositions, these loops serve as a ready made foundation upon which Blues Control over lay virtuosic spaced-out piano and infectious damaged guitar leads. Along the way synths, flutes, harmonicas, and manipulated vocals all make appearances in walk-on roles. All structures created for and within these compositions are calculated devices for reaching a more pure level of expression and shared freedom. Freedom is a quality so quickly (and perhaps wrongly) associated with improvised music. While Blues Control are by no means an improv group, their songs are built loosely enough for subtle continual reinvention to take place. It is also through these slight and subtle “imperfections” and “inventions” that the listener is able to develop a closer relationship to the music and it’s makers.
These songs cannot adequately be described in pre-existing genre definitions. There is a hazy feeling of familiarity one gets when listening to the tracks contained here within but any immediate point of reference will not have a name. We could throw terms around until we are blue in the face, but I promise you the moment we settle on a definition, no matter how concrete or vague, Blues Control will make a move to contradict all the conclusions we just arrived at. You see, Blues Control are not afraid of stylistic contradictions that may arise within their process, in fact they embrace them, understanding that the richest territory to mine is that which is not defined, and what better way to get the listener to walk the path with them then by giving the listener something vaguely familiar to hold onto.
As I listen again and again I can’t help but think of, what I imagine to be an, unintentional bond this album shares with German Oak and their self-titled album released 35 years earlier. Though Blues Controls, spaced-out tin can party vibe couldn’t be further from the dark brooding of German Oak, the recordings present on both albums share a similar sense of production and through that production succeed at creating a very specific space in which the music exists. There is an honesty and sincerity that can be heard through the music, a quality that can not be assumed, that truly makes this album a gem to be treasured. Blues Control are not afraid to commune with the ghosts of rock past but be aware their reference to the groups of the past goes hand in hand with a wary critical edge and an eye to the future. 9/10 -- Ryan Brown (12 September, 2007)