March to the Sea marks an ending and a beginning for the Montreal-based no wave chaos-bearers AIDS Wolf. While they've been touring as a trio for nearly a year, this set, cut in late 2009, is their final recording as a quartet with guitarist Myles Broscoe. Vocalist Chloe Lum, drummer Yannick Desranleau, and guitarists Alex Moskos and Broscoe worked with David Bryant at Montreal's In the Pines studio; the album was mastered by Weasel Walter in the U.S. Musically, the six originals here reflect a more compositionally oriented approach. This doesn't mean AIDS Wolf are much more accessible, however. Their extremities in dissonance, distortion, atonality, and shambolic playing are all a permanent part of the AIDS Wolf aesthetic. This is music as action, defiance, and provocation. But there are more discernible "song" forms present in this mix -- check the repetitive riff on "Wet Winds"; the vocal contains an actual refrain. On "Suck Is Happiness," one guitar solos while the other plays an angular, in-the-red bassline vamp. Drums offer a consistent space for Lum's vocal scree to center itself on. It's only two minutes and 13 seconds long, but feels like half an hour. Yeah, that is a good thing. The highlight of this 23-minute long "album" is its final track, a ten-minute cover of Throbbing Gristle's "Very Friendly," completely reimagined and far more aggressively delivered. This isn't an "industrial" take on the tune, it's more as if DNA met Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and performed as a group encore on the fly at a gig. It's nearly unbearable to listen to the insane guitar pyrotechnics in the middle of the track with Lum screaming, howling, declaring, and just letting her voice ramble as an eight-note pattern asserts and reasserts itself throughout, but fans of TG and Wolf Eyes should love this. According to Skin Graft, AIDS Wolf are also releasing a collection of remixes of this tune. As on their previous recordings, AIDS Wolf's sound on March to the Sea allows for no middle ground; you either love it or laugh at them for it because it's so extreme it feels like a Ren & Stimpy cartoon gone horribly wrong -- either way, they win.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek