Gauntlet Hair's world is one where time doesn't matter, or even exist—a perpetual location residing somewhere between the walls of a forgotten underground cave and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Clocking in at just 35 minutes, Gauntlet Hair
, the self-titled debut from the Colorado duo, plays with epic proportions from the get-go. Within 15 seconds of the opener, the listener is ushered into a hynagogic free-for-all, and must quickly adapt to the chaotic surroundings. With three mere weapons of sonic warfare in their arsenal—guitar, drums and banshee vocals—Andy R. and Craig Nice manipulate, loop, delay, blur and refract these elements to have lightning sharp impacts. The nine tracks are built atop a marbled, warped foreground peppered by the profuse tiny explosions. Each snare slap elicits an avalanche of alien reverberating beats and the vast bass is a schoolyard bully, kicking you in the shins and stealing your milk money. They want to and with the listeners' help, are capable of breaking everything, as Gauntlet Hair's first morsel is ridiculously smash-danceable.
From the hard-hitting first track "Keep Time," it is lucid that this twosome does not believe in singularity—all influences, impressions and directions are shattered against each other. Nice's cymbals never relent, washing (or moreso scouring) over all, however definitely not removing any grittiness. The bombastic tone feels like a drum kit for each ear. "Top Bunk" acid-rains guitar gleam. Operating in a meth-fed sped-up shoegaze realm, "Mop It Up" introduces a controlled wall of sound, but one that can skitter its guts out at any moment. Comparisons to Panda Bear's experimental avant-pop are unavoidable here. "Lights Out," "Shout in Tongues," and "Our Scenery" riff on post-punks angular maniacal tones, dressing these pieces in jaunty spasms. Our Scenery is especially a standout; as crunchy riffs add some misplaced '50s psychobilly hints until sledging into a combat between Andy R's bratty, wailing vocals and grunge/noise interludes.
Most of the nine tracks are menacingly enjoyable; in such limited numbers, each has to be potent. Thus why "Showing"'s tropic vibe can't hold up; it purely isn't mean enough and comes across like a watered-down '80s synth ballad. Andy R's vocals are too obscured and meekly sound tired. Standing alone, the songs just don't mean the same as opposed to listening to them as a unit. Diversity is not rampant here, but that's not terribly overshadowing, as Gauntlet Hair's entire schema is so new, wildly contagious and weird. They manage to devise buoyant chill-worthy tunes in a freakout, cranked to 11, savage space; that diametrically ricochet and grate—two ideas that should clash, but are united through calculated (disguised as haphazard) collages.
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MP3: "Keep Time"