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Climax Golden Twins, "Eerie Fragrance"

cover imageFirst issued as a cassette-only release in 1995 with a variety of different names (ranging from Eyeless Fabrication to Eat Fuck), this long-unavailable early gem from Seattle’s beloved lo-fi sound collage weirdos is now available once again (in the decidedly more prestigious format of vinyl).


Etude Records

Climax Golden Twins

Eerie Fragrance (along with Climax Golden Hiss) is considered to be one of the first real, albeit formative and fumbling, manifestations of the otherworldly and unique Climax Golden Twins aesthetic.  The “band” at the point of these sessions consisted of only Jeffery Taylor and Rob Millis, however, as their career progressed the duo added new members and collaborators and eventually evolved far beyond their sloppy noise roots into the realm of sublime ambiance and serious art (perhaps culminating in their 2001 soundtrack for Brad Anderson’s Session 9).  The core duo of Millis and Taylor are also responsible for curating Dust-to-Digital’s amazing Victrola Favorites compilation, so their growing renown as respected musicologists is quite likely to someday eclipse the band’s influence (Millis in particular is actively hastening that process by lecturing and making films for Sublime Frequencies).

While thankfully CGT’s deeply aberrant nature has not significantly waned with their growing professionalism and success, the band’s self-professed “free hillbilly noise epilepsy” and ideologically punk roots have become much less prominent with age.  As such, the clumsy (yet inspired) amateurism of their early work still holds a great deal of charm (and is much more similar in spirit to Seattle’s other bastions of cultish eccentricity, The Sun City Girls).  While Eerie Fragrance undeniably lacks the nuance, cohesion, and beauty of more recent Twins releases, its crackling, skewed, free-form experimentation is still quite compelling in its own right.

All of the tracks included here are essentially formless, disquieting miasmas of ethnic field recordings, long-forgotten snippets from 78s, mangled and distressed tapes, found sounds, and sludgy garage rock flailings.  My favorite track is the opener, "EF Part One," which is memorably constructed of rumbling de-tuned bass, eerie flutes, a child’s voice repeatedly stating “listen…I’m really sorry,” squiggling and squelching noise blasts, and meditative Chinese percussion.  It is followed by the much more abrasive and deranged “EF Part Two,” which begins on a deceptively muted note with a slowed-down and pitch-shifted reggae sample.  The side ends with the brief, but dense, lunacy of “Toyland,” which combines calliope, children’s records, and early comedy records into a flurry of ADD-addled, anachronistic disorientation.

The second side begins with the haunting "EF Three," which centers around creepy, quavering string samples combined with field recordings from some mysterious foreign street environment, and a host of oft mangled and vaguely Indian stringed instrument improvisations.  That atmosphere of dread, however,  is dissipated with “EF Part Four,” which begins with some dissonant ringing and layered Chinese or Indian percussion before degenerating into a cathartic gale of static, rumblings, and radio noises.  There are two more tracks on the side, “Cowboy Weather” and “What was Pointless,” but it is very difficult to tell where one track ends and the next begins: the important thing is that neither the quality nor the unrelenting lysergic weirdness show any signs of lessening.

Eerie Fragrance is a charismatic and idiosyncratic album that sounds quite like nothing else I have heard: this is the musical equivalent of taking an enormous amount of cold medication and watching television in the middle of the night, while constantly flipping through channels, flickering in and out of consciousness, and having very strange and disjointed dreams (albeit in a good way, of course).  This is a rather instructive example of how great art can originate from the most minimal of materials.    




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Review of the Day

You'd be hard pushed to realise that samples from classical music form the core of the second Illuminati EP, as they've mostly been utterly distorted and pulverised beyond recognition. A middle aged electrician commented that this reminded him of Soft Machine which is odd because Dave Clarkson of Illuminati and Planetsounds is a big fan of theirs, but I'd never have thought it was something that sounded similar. When I mentioned the comparison to Dave he asked if it was the third track, "Glass Box Trap" which chucks a melodic keyboard jitter over thrumming double drone backbone, and a nasal voice muttering disgruntled and nebulous. If I was going to fling comparisons at Illuminati though I'd have to mention Throbbing Gristle, particularly "DOA," but I think I did that with the first EP. This one has the same picture on the cover, but inverted to negative and in some ways this a darker and more menacing trip. A deep singular pulse beat opens the strange door onto a microscope resolution for "Midget Germs" which vibrate ominously in hell spawned misery. Feedback screams and muffled moans punctuate this tortured cancerous eyeball injection. The poor germs don't stand a chance when "Argenteum Atavism" squirts beatnoise bleach all over them. Crunching along in hectic overloaded abandon, this is what it might sound like if Aphex Twin tried to put one over on Non. Just as the melody creeps in one final crash collapses into semi-ambient bleepscape gurgling. The fourth and final track swings "The Strange Door" shut and desperate knocking can be heard from outside as the germs shut outside slowly fizzle to their demise, and a new dawn of lush angelic keyboard bursts across the blackened sky. Distant thunder rumbles.



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