Rubella - The Pit
(Tolmie Terrapin 2017)
Ring in the new year with skin disease: the latest output manufactured by industrial-pop processing plant Rubella comes bundled in eczemic distortion, leaving a flaky trail of shed melodicism in its wake. In the crepuscular tradition of Bauhaus and Blank Dogs, the Ohioan sextet squeezes squirrelly post-punk arrangements into congested spaces. Each throaty synth squelch and barked verse you'll encounter in The Pit feels like a disembodied breath that clings to your neck hair - Rubella's brand of B-movie horror is more implied than concrete, like a pair of ping-pong ball eyes peeking through the darkness of a poorly-lit room.
Decelerating the unbridled violence of Melt-Banana's coppery blast-beats, Rubella's largely electronic brand of no-wave recalls the garbled cry of a dial-up internet connection brushing digital sleep from its eyes. Cuts like "Wasted Gifts" and the treacherous, piano-driven "Bad Parts" sneak needle-like bursts of high-frequency static into their lawless soundscapes as a unifying twinge of discomfort. No particular element of The Pit is particularly unnerving, but taken as a whole, Rubella's record is overwhelming in its concentrated chaos. Strangely enough, it's the more atonal tracks - "Tunnel Drive" and "Wild Grasses" that I've come back most often, harmonically arid yet alluring in their percussive assault.
The Pit isn't exactly an inviting listen, but those who feel most at home with a Sacred Bones record spinning on the phonograph or a Spotify playlist's worth of Wolf Eyes leaking through earbud speakers should snuggle into its blanket of sour sound quite cozily.