Stream: Herbert Powell – “Hell and Sebastian”

Lo-fi, jangly, experimental instrumental tunes coming your way today courtesty of Herbert Powell. The influence of Women (and latter day Women offshoot Cindy Lee), Polvo, and maybe some Beefheart and Jandek, are worn proudly on their sleeves. I can’t help but hear a little shade of Do Make Say Think in there too, maybe not so much in the guitars, but there is definitely something about the drum sound that makes me think of Do Make Say Think.

De-tuned, coarse, loose, but never falling out completely. Quiet and unassuming in timbre and volume – no squealing bursts of feedback, no ultra distorted fuzz-tone. I don’t even hear so much as a delay pedal. Just a little bit of echo from the room and they are off and running.

What I like most about bands that are able to make this kind of music well isn’t so much how much noise they can make, or how far out they can go with their harmonies, but how much they can stretch the structure of a song without losing the listener completely. For all the ramshackle quality on the surface there is still an obvious bit of planning that is going into these songs. Just listen to the bass. The bassist is almost hiding in the back of the mix, but it’s really anchoring everything.

Speaking of Beefheart, the track “Snout Mask Replica” shifts between a spacious and slow section and a contrasting fast and rambunctious one. Dare I say it that there is even a part that functions like a bridge. Great shapes all around. And check out the counterpoint going on at the beginning of “Cider Goth.” The song just starts to form out of a cloud, picking up steam as it goes. Guitars wrapping themselves around each other, coming together, falling apart again, grinding to a halt, pushing forward. The entire song works like the outro of Women’s “January 8th” (which in itself is taking an idea from Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”) where the tempo is in flux, speeding up as the song takes off and then slowing as things start to come apart again. It’s all pretty tightly controlled though.

Finally, “Aldo Huxley” is an oddly touching way to end. Despite the chugging guitar that attempts to eschew delicacy, there are some moments in there where the guitars match up in such a perfect way. Those little moments happen periodically throughout not just this closing track, but the entire release. If you listen for those, giving everything a really close reading, you’ll be glad you did.

Head over to Bandcamp to download this gem. It’s only £1 ($1.64), but you can always feel free to throw in a bit extra. You can stream it above, or on the bandcamp page.