Hair Police

Obedience Cuts

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AllMusic Review by

If Lollapalooza '04 hadn't fallen through, who knows what might have happened. Hair Police, the free-noise spazz-rock trio from Lexington, KY, was slated to play a handful of dates, and according to many reports the band was leaving a trail of blown minds (and ears, and amps) in its wake at the time with its live show. Instead, they had to settle for a few opening slots along Sonic Youth's summer tour. Not a bad consolation prize. But still, it's hard not to wonder what that level of exposure could have meant for the band. They had just released Obedience Cuts, an album of pulsing, twitching fury, and the very idea that music this inaccessible and demanding (on the senses and brain) could have been featured at one of the biggest rock festivals of the year is a bit mind-blowing in and of itself. With such bands as Black Dice and Wolf Eyes creeping at least toward the mainstream, this album could have been a genre-defining moment. It almost is just that, purely on its own strengths. "Let's See Who's Here and Who's Not" squeals to a start with an ear-tearingly distorted howl, the drums sounding as if they're being kicked down a stairway. The album's title track oscillates between a completely in-the-red squall of sound and a relatively somber dubbed-out death rattle. This mutates into a sort of distorted insect-mating call before disintegrating into the almost classic, Throbbing Gristle-style industrial face-breaker of "Bee Scrape." "Boneless" sets a violin to the task of scraping the residue off of hopelessly rusted-out oil drums. While "Open Body" momentarily approaches the militant industrial funk of Savage Republic. "Skull Mold" brings it all to a close with a broken, hydrochloric acid-soaked cymbal and throb gamelan. Despite the overall abrasiveness and confrontational posture of Obedience Cuts, the album isn't all about nihilistic rage and aggression, although it does bring these in spades. There are moments of ecstatic glee and even vulnerability. Hair Police aren't trying to kill you with noise, they're allowing themselves to be possessed by it, and inviting you to do the same.

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