Hair Police – Mercurial Rites (Type)
By Scott Creney
Now this is some real grisly shit right here. Forget your Swans, forget your Big Black, forget your Danish bands of dubious intelligence, Mercurial Rites will peel back your skin and take a scalpel to your brain in all kinds of pleasingly unpleasant ways. It’s about as light-hearted and funny as a dead child’s toy lying broken in the driveway.
The tools Hair Police use are standard avant stuff — found/manipulated sound, musique concrete, oscillation/isolation. industrial percussion, you get the idea. What they do with it isn’t standard at all.
I think the key word here is ominous. The sound of gonads in vice grips, the grimness of forced-labor camps, gray cancerous industrial smog. A horror movie without starlets, without irony — no tits, no titillation, just a big black boot to the face, brutal and harrowing.
Synths that sound like trickled urine splashing against tiled floor. Cattle prods and debasement, funerals and excrement.
The strangled bagpipes of ‘Dusk Misplaced’. A dead homeless guy’s tin cup rattling in the wind. They’ve been at this for over a decade now; this is the best and darkest thing yet.
The vocals are infrequent, but when they appear they sound like radio broadcasts from the more hellish areas of hell. The only discernible words on the album are I like this color. I’m unable/reluctant to make out the rest, consumed as they by the sounds of torture.
If the NME still existed, there would be a headline at the top of this review that said “KNOW YOUR RITES”.
You have to respect the mono-dimensionality of their commitment. It’s relentless, the way our personal journey towards death (that is to say, our conscious life) is relentless.
I want to giggle at it, a little, to make it less powerful. But that says more about me, my need for psychic protection, than it does about the music. I don’t feel comfortable playing this around other people. I don’t want to bum them out. The music is already oppressive enough; I feel like forcing people to listen to it is just piling on.