The other day, without warning, a dragonfly landed on my shoulder and scared the hell out of me. In the half second before I jumped out of my chair and frightened it off I had a glimpse of bulbous alien eyes and the flash of sunlight on greenish iridescent wings. Insects are fascinating, creepy, elegant, and otherworldly, but never cuddly. It’s hard to anthropomorphize them. We see ourselves in the loving gaze of a dog, not so much in the exoskeleton of beetle.
Entomological Souvenirs I, the mostly instrumental album by trio Velvet Ants released September 19, is a bit like that, as it’s a disorienting but beautiful combination of fuzzed-out blasts of noise, intricate note picking, and swirling melodies that twist and turn like the spiraling papier-mâché of a wasp’s nest. It’s music that goes about its business on its own terms, uncaring if you like it or not, but with a purity of purpose.
Album opener Centipede unleashes a squeal of feedback before the gnarly guitar settles into a chugging rhythm mimicking the undulating flow of its namesake. Midway through the track dissolves into more staccato feedback like the chittering communication of insects not pitched for human ears. The twin guitar attack of Joe and Kaz is on full display on Grasshopper, doing the psycho-surf of The Cramps one better as drummer Kusunose pounds out a mutated Wipeout beat. Mantis offers up more start/stop rhythms, while Cicada brings a bit of a respite from the preceding chaos, or at least the first, more meditative, half does, before the band shifts back to a four on the floor pace to close out the album.
The group has a release party coming up October 14 at performance space spazio rita in Nagoya.
Entomological Souvenirs I