The self-titled Constellation Records debut by Exhaust embodies the sound of squatting in an anarcho-socialist warehouse commune in Montreal's arty/industrial Mile-End district surrounded by French-speaking philosopher/musicians with revolution on their minds and time on their hands. Exhaust are comprised of drummer Aidan Girt (aka 1-Speed Bike and later of Godspeed You Black Emperor!), Gordon Krieger on bass guitar and bass clarinet, and Mike Zabitsky on reel-to-reel tape "distortions." Constellation calls it "a bipolar thrillride from one of the bands that made us want to start a record label." Much of their live-to-four-track recordings have been electronically manipulated during mixdown to evoke an aura of experimental dub and an attendant cinematic mystery that conjures the urban setting of their creations. The drumming is minimalist and crudely recorded, as if from a single microphone set up in a storm drain, yet front and center, directing each piece, while menacing tape loops of agitprop speeches, street conversations, film dialog, and eerie wails permeate the mix, and all of this is anchored by depth-charge bass drones and the moaning of the clarinet. Song titles are as evocative as the music itself: "A History of Guerrilla Warfare," "Two Years on Welfare," "A Medley of Late Night Buffet Commercials," "We Support Iran in Their Bid to Win the 1998 World Cup." The last track, "The Black Horns of H2T," an apparent homage to Montreal's premier avant music recording studio, the mighty Hotel 2 Tango, is a solo for bass clarinet sounding more like a time-warped and demon-possessed didgeridoo. "This Is Our (Borrowed) Equipment" is a studio-tweaked drum meditation where ambient sounds, possibly of traffic and jackhammers, compete with the percussion. "Homemade Maggot Beer" is a 26-second guitar and drum spazz-out of the length and quality of the splattery regurgitation resulting upon consumption of such a product. And "Wool Fever" is an artist co-op anthem with heroic guitar figure and epic drumbeat. From the impression this album leaves, Exhaust is the byproduct of the combustion of abstract sociopolitical concepts powering rebellious minds.
AllMusic Review by Brian Way