FREQ – Controlled Bleeding “Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps” (2016)

The Gregory Jacobsen cover wrapping this double album is a thing of warped beauty, but in no way prepares you for the flash flood of fret gymnastics it contains. An opener that literally takes your breath away, “Driving Through Darkness” is bloody brilliant, all hot proggy curves and  carbolic rubs with a satisfying Pere Ubu-like underbelly chugging away all superconductive, combustive and ravenously hungry. A reactive tangle that daisy-chains the dexterous, tugs at your brainbox, dances in your head like those blue-skinned aliens of Star Trek. Things briefly tapping the serene in lovely and delicate touch-points, before burning up on über-kraut-fuelled re-entries.

Historically, Controlled Bleeding have had a penchant for cacophony since their inception back at the end of the seventies. Their squealing and alienating Knees And Bones LP is up there in my hallowed hall of noise for sure. Power electronics before there was any such genre, giving dimension to the nihilistic flatness of  better-known noise exploiters such as Whitehouse ( I remember buying the latter’s Total Sex and wondering what the fuss was about). It’s really nice to see Controlled Bleeding haven’t lost any of that experimental zeal in the intervening years as “Carving Song” takes hold in surging sirens of wow.

This abrasive puppy is something else, even better than the opener, rubbing you up the wrong way in stretchy latex-like bursts, like old-time Sonic Youth with Residents-like vocal psych-babels, then dispatching all sax-buckled, full of barring train(isms). A real screaming skull of misshapenness that “Trawler’s Return” scoops up and flicks out in a Karl Blake psycho purr, its pogo(ing) bounce and triple-speed percussives taking the previous heat and burning even more intensely than before, ending in a garbled garden of delight.

Now the watery refrains of “As Evening Fades” betray a far gentler side to the album’s outlay, all Popol Vuh-like hammocks to silver-fishing sprites of fret and sliding ectoplasms that brings brief respite to the 22-minute joy of squealing dissonance that follows, “The Perks Of Being A Perv”. This is just amazing, a true album highlight that leaves you salivating for more. A monstrous sweep of pinballed malfunction and attentive abusive, that relentless rave-like thumping masturbating so many tasty scarred sounds. Ten minutes in, it’s going all echo chambered Prurient/Sudden Infant before mucking out the sonic factory once more to a wobble board of sped-up (garble)uments and screaming shrill welds. So darn restless, it’s soon steaming off on extra-jizzled progressives, hooky thrashings of guitar surfing the prevailing rub to the track’s abrupt terminus.

The second disc comprises session tracks that didn’t quite make the first disc, plus a few demos of tracks that did. As a sister to the first course, there’s plenty more of that dexterous guitar on offer, lots of tasty, hot-licking incentives, fist-flared drums and bass-churned falcons all ending on a curiously poppy note of the somewhat baggy(esque) /acid jazzy / skewered Sadé vibe that is “Trang’s Song”. An inquisitive diversion that shows Controlled Bleeding’s sound-world to be healthier than ever.

Review by; Michael Rodham-Heaps
Review originally published here:






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