Out Hud and !!!

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Out Hud: Street Dad , 7/10
!!!: !!! (2002), 6.5/10
!!!: Me And Giuliani Down By the School Yard (2003), 7.5/10 (EP)
!!!: Louden Up Now (2004), 6.5/10
Out Hud: Let Us Never Speak Of It Again (2005), 6/10
!!!: Myth Takes (2007) , 7/10
!!!: Strange Weather Isn't It? (2010) , 5/10
Thr!!!er (2013), 4.5/10
As If (2015), 4/10
Shake The Shudder (2017), 4.5/10
Wallop (2019), 4/10
Let it be Blue (2022), 3/10

Out Hud were formed in 1996 in Sacramento (California) with Nic Offer (bass), Tyler Pope (guitar), Justin Vandervolgen (mixing board), Molly Schnict (cello) and Phyllis (drums).
Nic Offer (on vocals) and Tyler Pope (guitar) were formerly in Yahmos, a Sacramento punk band started around 1990. They released the EPs Right On (Sunney Sindicut, 1993) and Off Your Parents (Recess, 1994; Moo-La-La, 1996), while their album Undefeated (Gern Blandsten, 2001) will be published only several years later. Molly Schnict and Phyllis were formerly in Raouul.
Out Hud debuted with a trio of EPs: Out Hud (Red Alert Works, 1998), Natural Selection (GSL, 1999), First Single of the New Millennium (5 Rue Christine, 2000) and the single Le Elephant Stomp (5 Rue Christine, 1999).

The (short) all-instrumental album Street Dad (Kranky, 2002) contains six dance tracks that hark back to the dance-oriented new-wave bands of the early 1980s, such as Contortions and Golden Palominos. Story of the Whole Thing is a monster revisionist piece of the reggae and funk tradition, enhanced with gothic overtones, a tinning guitar pattern, classical-sounding cello lines and frantic hip-hop explosions. Dad There's a Little Phrase Called Too Much Information, propelled by the steady beat and whirling electronics of European disco-music of the 1970s, and derailed by recurring and slightly discordant guitar patterns, soars in a funk fanfare worthy of the glorious Love Of Life Orchestra. This Bum's Paid dances around a light funky beat and a melodic bass line taken from Pink Floyd's The Wall. Hair Dude, You're Stepping On My Mystique and My Two Nads are more convetional dance tracks (the former a sensual disco ballad that opens with a threatening dissonant riff, and the latter a hyperkinetic tribal funk maelstrom) that simply reiterate previous elements, but still a lot of creative fun. The conceptual centerpiece of the album is the 12-minute The L Train is a Swell Train and I Don't Want to Hear You Indies Complain, a syncopated and tribal techno ballet that mixes oneiric guitar tones, industrial-grade panzer rhythms and a symphony of quirky background sounds.

Out Hud moved to New York in 2001. Offer (bass), Pope (guitar) and Vandervolgen (keyboards) also played in !!! (pronounced "chik chik chik"), a septet, formed in 1996 in Sacramento, whose debut EP was a split with Out Hud (Gold Standard Laboratories, 2000), followed by a single. The project came into its own with the album !!! (GSL, 2002), containing the convoluted funk a` la Contortions of The Step (but with a far more regular saxophone), the obsessively vulgar and repetitive Kookooka Fuk-U, the nine-minute There's No Fucking Rules Dude, that is more of an atmospheric piece than a purely edonistic dance, contaminated with psychedelic, hip-hop, dissonant and ska elements, the relentless mutating funk machine of Intensify, and the gargantuan electronic counterpoint of Feel Good Hit Of The Fall. The 20-minute EP Me And Giuliani Down By the School Yard (Warp, 2003) collects two lengthy new-wave-ish dance jams. The nine-minute Me And Giuliani Down By the School Yard, in particular, is another glorious disco-punk nightmare that resurrects the likes of ESG and Liquid Liquid. For two minutes the tenuous vocal plot is held together by layered minimalist repetition before a massive drone splits up releasing a propulsive Moroder-like beat that, in turn, mutates into an agonizing punkish rant against syncopated guitar lines. Intensifieder Sunracapellectrohshit Mix 03 is an even more adventurous piece that uses sampled vocals (and everything else) like a percussion instrument and ends with a distorted

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini e Giuseppe Schiavoni)

Gli Out Hud si sono formati a Sacramento nel 1996 e comprendono Nic Offer (basso), Tyler Pope (chitarra), Justin Vandervolgen (mixing), Molly Schnict (violoncello) e Phyllis (batteria).
Il cantante (Nic Offer) ed il chitarrista (Tyler Pope) attorno al 1990 erano già membri dei Yahoms, un gruppo punk anch'esso di Sacramento. Realizzarono gli EP Right On (Sunney Sindicut, 1993) e Off Your Parents (Recess, 1994; Moo-La-La, 1996), ma l'esordio sulla lunga durata Undefeated (Gern Blandsten, 2001) dovrà aspettare molti anni prima di veder la luce. Molly Schnict e Phyllis erano invece membri dei Raouul.
Out Hud hanno fatto il debutto con una triade di EP: Out Hud (Red Alert Works, 1998), Natural Selection (GSL, 1999), First Single of the New Millennium (5 Rue Christine, 2000) più il singolo Le Elephant Stomp (5 Rue Christine, 1999).

L'album (corto) completamente strumentale Street Dad (Kranky, 2002) contiene sei tracce dance che fanno pensare ai gruppi new-wave dance-oriented dei primi anni '80, come i Contortions e i Golden Palominos. Story of the Whole Thing è un pezzo revisionista della tradizione reggae e funk, potenziato da un'atmosfera gotica, un fraseggio chitarristico tintinnante, linee di violoncello classicheggianti e esplosioni di frenetico hip-hop. Dad There's a Little Phrase Called Too Much Information, propogato da un battito saldo e le turbine elettroniche della disco-music europea dei seventies, e deragliato da ricorrenti fraseggi chitarristici leggermente dissonanti, e prende lo slancio in una fanfara funky degna dei gloriosi Love Of Life Orchestra. This Bum's Paid saltella tra un leggero battito funky e un basso melodico ricalcato sui Pink Floyd di The Wall. Hair Dude, You're Stepping On My Mystique e My Two Nads sono tracce dance più convenzionali (la prima una ballata che si apre con un riff spaventosamente dissonante, e la seconda un maelstrom ipertecnico di funk tribale) che si limitano a ripetere i concetti precedenti, ma sempre con un tocco creativo. Il centro concettuale dell'album sono i 12 minuti di The L Train is a Swell Train and I Don't Want to Hear You Indies Complain, un balletto techno sincopato e tribale che mixa toni chitarristici onirici, ritmiche panzer simil-industrial e una sinfonia di suoni svolazzanti in sottofondo.

Out Hud si spostano a New York nel 2001. Offer (basso), Pope (chitarra) e Vandervolgen (tastiere) suonano anche nei !!! (pronunciato "chik chik chik"), un settetto, formato nel 1996 a Sacramento, il cui EP di debutto era distribuito insieme a Out Hud (GSL, 2000), seguito da singolo e dall'album !!! (GSL, 2002), che contiene i 9 minuti del dance funk-ska-punk There's No Fucking Rules Dude e l’elettronica pirotecnica di Feel Good Hit Of The Fall. L’EP (20 minuti) Me And Giuliani Down By the School Yard (Warp, 2003) contiene due lunghe jam new wave dance, mentre la title track di nove minuti è un altro magnifico incubo disco-punk che fa risorgere echi di ESG e Liquid Liquid.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Tobia D’Onofrio)

Per due minuti la tenue trama vocale è tenuta insieme da una stratificata ripetizione minimalista prima che un massiccio drone si spacchi rilasciando un beat propulsivo alla Moroder che, a sua volta, si trasforma in un agonizzante farneticamento punk contro sincopate linee di chitarra. Intensifieder Sunracapellectrohshit Mix 03 è un pezzo anche più avventuroso che utilizza campioni di parti cantate (insieme a tant’altro) come strumenti percussivi.

The second album by !!! (Chik Chik Chik), Louden Up Now (Touch And Go, 2004), was again devoted to hypnotic and orgiastic dance music, but the tone was more austere and at times even gloomy. When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Gets Crazee blends space-funk, rhythm'n'blues and Freudian nightmare. The babbling and the dissonances lend Dear Can the intellectual quality of an expressionist cabaret. Hello Is This Thing On is the post-modernist version of Me And Giuliani, with both dub and flamenco guitar detours inside the base structure of dumb beats and frigid vocals, and sudden instrumental breaks for tambourine and bells or horn fanfares. By comparison with the first album's jovial eruptions, the two-part ShitSchiesseMerde was chamber music (if not glitch music). All the pieces are endless chain-reaction mutations of Me And Giuliani Down By the School Yard, each adding new eccentric twists to the base concept. The idea was to set up and trigger deranged groove-driven workouts that sounded like parodies but actually constituted the new avantgarde. Nic Offer had coined an effective compromise of punk sneer and rap aggression. The tone is infinitely more serious than on the previous albums and singles.

Out Hud's Let Us Never Speak Of It Again (Kranky, 2005) is another cauldron of quotes from the 1970s. The musicians play with space and time in a way that radically subverts the advertised retro program. The elements that stand out are the extremes: either when the music harks straight back to the beginnings of synthetic funk music, or when the experiment is truly theirs, Out Hud's (not a mere reference to the new wave). The sound oscillates wildly between the ultimate retro-funky, and the contemporary alienated. The pounding percussion and exotic vocals of It's For You is distinctively 1990s, not nostalgic at all, and the treatment of the melodic progressions and the string arrangements is plainly futuristic. The cubist, hiccupping ballett of One Life to Leave and the noisy, trancey interludes of Old Nude overcome the superficial resemblance with disco-music. The tribal orgy of the instrumental The Song So Good They named it Thrice best summarizes their aesthetic principles by laying down a (dense) rhythmic base and then devastating it with a hailstorm of cosmic bleeps, mutating synthesizers and whirling, exotic symphonic melodies: Frank Zappa (circa Uncle Meat) meets Giorgio Moroder and the Talking Heads. The horror score of 2005 A Face Odyssey is, de facto, a free-form sonata, fading and returning like a ghostly presence, until it explodes in a massive fanfare.
The 11-minute Dear Mr Bush There are Over 100 Words for Shit and Only 1 for Music is a thumping feverish techno locomotive that shifts gear a few times and destabilizes the hypnosis with mournful cello phrases. From mutation to mutation, the melody becomes more relevant, and, by the end, the piece has turned into some kind of triumphal Yanni-like anthem.
The overall feeling is one of psychoanalysis of the post-industrial digital world, not of nostalgic reminiscence of the pre-digital era.

!!!'s EP Take Ecstacy With Me (Touch & Go, 2005) is devoted to covers, notably the namesake Magnetic Fields song.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Giuseppe Schiavoni)

Il secondo album dei !!! (Chik Chik Chik), Louden Up Now (Touch And Go, 2004), ipnotica e orgiastica musica dance che deraglia in esercitazioni strumentali groove, può sembrare parodistico, ma in realtà costituisce la nuova avanguardia (ShitSchiesseMerde, When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Gets Crazee). Hello? Is This Thing On?, Theme from Space Island, Pardon My Freedom e Dear Can sono mutazioni a catena senza fine di Me And Giuliani Down By the School Yard, ed ognuna di queste tracce aggiunge nuove ed eccentriche svolte al concetto di base. Nic Offer dà effettivamente vita alla simbiosi fra il sarcasmo del punk e l’aggressività del rap.

Let Us Never Speak Of It Again (Kranky, 2005) degli Out Hud è un altro calderone di citazioni degli anni 70, ma i musicisti giocano con lo spazio e il tempo in un modo che sovverte radicalmente il loro manifesto programmatico retrò. Gli elementi che risaltano sono gli estremi, sia quando la musica torna dritta alle origini della musica funk sintetica, sia quando le sperimentazioni sono tutte loro, degli Out Hud, e non semplici riferimenti alla new wave. Il suono oscilla selvaggiamente fra un retro-funky estremo e la moderna alienazione. Le percussioni ossessive e le voci esotiche di It's For You sono sono tipicamente anni 90, assolutamente non nostalgiche, e il trattamento delle progressioni melodiche e gli arrangiamenti di chitarra decisamente futuristici. Il balletto cubista e saltellante di One Life to Leave e i rumorosi interludi estatici di Old Nude, vanno oltre una superficiale reminiscenza della disco-music.

L’orgia tribale della strumentale The Song So Good They named it Thrice sintetizza al meglio i loro canoni estetici, attraverso la distesa di una (densa) base ritmica e la successiva devastazione, con una grandinata di bip cosmici, sintetizzatori mutanti e turbinose esotiche melodie sinfoniche: Frank Zappa (Uncle Meat) incontra Giorgio Moroder e i Talking Heads. La partitura horror 2005 A Face Odyssey è, de facto, una sonata free-form che, come una presenza spettrale, appare e scompare finchè non esplode in un delirio di fanfare.

Gli 11 minuti di Dear Mr Bush There are Over 100 Words for Shit and Only 1 for Music sono una locomotiva techno febbrile e lancinante che cambia continuamente ritmo e destabilizza l’ipnosi con lugubri note di violoncello. Di mutazione in mutazione, la melodia assume un ruolo sempre più rilevante, e alla fine il pezzo si trasforma in qualcosa di simile ad un inno trionfale alla Yanni.

La sensazione è principalmente quella di una seduta psicoanalitica in un mondo digitale post-industriale, più che un ricordo nostalgico dell’era pre-digitale.

L’EP degli !!! Take Ecstacy With Me (Touch & Go, 2005) è dedicato alle cover, e spicca l’omonima canzone dei Magnetic Fields.

Myth Takes (Warp, 2007), the third album by !!!, was another tour de force of drums (Gerard Fuchs), bass and psychotic vocals, excelling in breakneck dance numbers with sexy innuendos. Instead of fusing the different inspirations of the first and second albums, the third album kept the two souls of !!! separated, the hedonistic and creative, and it may be so for the best. The former is best represented by the atmospheric locomotive Myth Takes, with western guitar twang and ghostly electronic noises, and especially by the comic Must Be The Moon, alternating rap-like vocals and catchy doo-wop refrains. The latter include the discordant fantasia A New Name, with falsetto soul vocals, the martial and demented Yadmus, reminiscent of both Norman Greenbaum's Spirit In The Sky (1970) and of Prince, and especially the multi-layered beat of Heart of Hearts, with industrial overtones and female vocals. The morphing Bend Over Beethoven even evokes the merry-go-round of Me And Giuliani, beginning in a loose style more appropriate to prog-rock than to disco-music and then plunging into a dub-like black hole before taking off propelled by hyper-funky guitar. The closer, Infinifold, is an odd piano-based expressionist kammerspiel that belongs to another album and another band. (Translation by/ Tradotto da Tobia D’Onofrio)

Myth Takes (Warp, 2007), il terzo album dei !!!, è un altro tour de force di batteria (Gerard Fuchs), basso e cantato psicotico, che eccelle in una musica dance spacca-schiena con allusioni sessuali. Invece di fondere le diverse ispirazioni del primo e del secondo album, il terzo mantiene separate le due anime dei !!!, quella edonistica e quella creativa, e questo forse è un bene. La prima è perfettamente rappresentata dalla locomotiva atmosferica di Myth Takes, con strimpellio di chitarra western e spettrali rumori elettronici, e soprattutto dalla comica Must Be The Moon, che alterna un cantato rap ad orecchiabili ritornelli doo-wop. L’anima creativa, invece, produce la dissonante fantasia A New Name con un cantato soul in falsetto, la marziale e demente Yadmus reminiscente sia di Spirit In The Sky di Norman Greenbaum che di Prince, e soprattutto il beat stratificato di Heart Of Hearts con armonie industrial e cantato femminile. La cangiante Bend Over Beethoven evoca persino la giostra di Me And Giuliani, partendo con uno stile sciolto più prog-rock che disco-music, e tuffandosi poi in un buco nero dub, prima di ripartire spinto da una chitarra hyper-funky. In chiusura Infinifold è una strana kammerspiel espressionista per piano, che sembra appartenere ad un altro album e ad un’altra band.

!!!'s Strange Weather Isn't It? (Warp, 2010) contains the single AM FM and little else, marking a sudden collapse in quality. They dished out more conventional disco-pop on Thr!!!er (Warp Records, 2013), notably One Girl/One Boy, As If (Warp Records, 2015), on which no songs deserve to be mentioned, Shake The Shudder (Warp Records, 2017), notably Dancing Is The Best Revenge, Wallop (Warp Records, 2019), another awful collection, and on Let it be Blue (2022), their worst album yet.
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