Transcendental Manship Highway - lord of the trees

Crucial Blast

The experimental noise/drone scene that revolves around Rochester's Carbon Records has produced a very small but exciting crop of heavy free-rock groups like Stone Baby, Crush The Junta and Entente Cordiale, and I've become a pretty big fan of all of them. This little scene is as incestuous as these kinds of insular communities usually are, with just a handful of bands swapping members back and forth and forming into different permutations of one core sound, which in this case is a kind of burly, guitar-based brand of improvisational riff-ooze that takes the New Zealand free-rock sound of the Dead C and Gate and pumps it full of volume and testosterone and crushing distortion. Transcendental Manship Highway is the latest project to grow off of the Carbon/Rochester free-skuzz trunk, and it's pretty heavy stuff. Featuring members of Crush The Junta and Stone Baby, TMH go for the sludgy, improvised heaviosity shared with Crush The Junta, but the half-hour track that makes up this debut disc is much more free and trippy. Sprawling metallic sludge riffage goes off in twenty directions at once, the guitarists grinding away at thick droning powerchords over a battery of pouding, somewhat tribal sounding percussion. The riffage weaves its way through a dense fog of swirling feedback, black plumes of amplifier smoke and formless guitar solos that race skyward and send off fiery sparks and chunks of melody; halfway through the track, the music dissolves into this crushing wall of blackened amp drone teeming with extreme wah-pedal abuse and reverb and cymbal noise that stretches out for several minutes, until the band crashes back in, krautrock drums pulsing deep underneath the layers of delayed vocals and blackened shrieking and feedback. Formless and massive, feedback is the focus and TMH spit out monolithic gobs of the stuff across this set, and deliver a thunderous sludge-drone blast that sounds like the loudest sections of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless being blasted at full volume over another sound system spinning Skullflower's IIIrd Gatekeeper. You can smell the amplifier smoke all over this. Even the disc itself, painted silver with a weird bubbling texture across it's surface, looks like it has been in the presence of a powerful heat source. The disc comes in a full color ardstock folder with nice wintery photography of frost-covered woodlands, which ties in nicely with the group's bleak, blasted tribal psych sludge

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