K-l-a-n-g-!, a new record by Austin-based, Rochester transplants the New Mummies, is sequenced like a nocturnal diver’s upward drift through black water towards air, beginning in murk and ending in (relative) clarity. The album begins with three noisy drones—”Bridges Out,” “The Servants Call,” and “Delayed Response”—that progress from deeply abstracted tracks that approach musique concrete into a humid, delay-drenched menace reminiscent of Zelienople’s more diffused moments. There’s more activity in these drones than you’d expect, given that genre signifier. Rather than constructing pieces built around glacial progression, the New Mummies opt for more rapid crescendos. Sounds identifiable and otherwise—disembodied chants, burbling tones, guitar arpeggios released on slow, careening trajectories—churn through the mix.
Elsewhere, as on “Caught in the Underfield,” songs (more or less) coalesce out of a swampy haze, during which the New Mummies channel No Wave-primitivism through a particularly bleak form of outsider folk to create a sort of desolate dark pop. These songs, with the exception of the anthemic closer “Campaign for Wellness,” feel lucid only in relation to the trio of drones that open K-l-a-n-g-!. Indeed, the New Mummies take every opportunity to tear these songs apart, plunging them in cascading reverb, ripping out the low end, tightly wrapping vocals in rapidly decaying delay, and subjecting them to the microphone-on-the-other-side-of-the-room lo-fi recording methods of early Magik Markers. The result is a series of particularly emotionally direct songs made moreso by their obvious fragility, their precarious cobbling-together.
Given multiple, divergent threads of influence, it would be easy for the New Mummies to try to do to much here. But like Sparklehorse’s classic Good Morning Spider*, K-l-a-n-g-!‘s willfully de(con)structive production methods serve as a crucial binding agent, providing the common thread that runs through these quietly unsettling drones and dirges.
Enjoy it on their Bandcamp.
* Which, despite sounding absolutely nothing like K-l-a-n-g-!, is a surprisingly handy signifier for it, being an album similar in fractured lonesomeness and fractured construction.