Black Pus is Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale’s pop-inspired side project. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. The drummer’s solo-musings are only “pop” in comparison to his main gig, whose expansive, abstract thrashing sounds sort of like a flaming 8-bit meteor plunging into the Burning Man festival.
Those same drum-and-bass-meets-Jackson Pollock rhythms provide the foundations for Black Pus, but here, Chippendale sometimes reigns in the pounding to make way for singsongy melodies. Over the number of small-run CD-R and CD releases that he’s done under the name since 2005, there’s been a marked progression from free-form havok to music that is, in its own claustrophobic and LSD-singed way, kind of tuneful. And this latest release, even more so.
All My Relations is the first Black Pus record to have been recorded in a professional studio, rather than at home on Chippendale’s cassette four-track. As a result, it’s noticeably less blown-out than those previous efforts. Producers Keith Souza and Seth Manchester– who have engineered records by Battles and Skull Defekts— help to inch the fidelity forward, strengthening the low end and bringing definition to the stew of psychedelic gook that drifts around the drums.
Not that All My Relations is any kind of step toward the mainstream. The added clarity actually makes the music sounds even more aggressively gonzo. On album opener “Marauder”, Chippendale wails and hollers over splatters of rhythm, accompanied only by a kick drum-triggered oscillator. That sound– which mutates over the course of the album from dentist drill grind to rubber band flop– acts as a stand in for his Lightning Bolt co-conspirator, bassist Brian Gibson, providing a consistent pulse for the drummer to rail against.
On subsequent songs, Chippendale chills out a little. On “1000 Years”, the drummer temporarily shelves his flashier moves, playing a fairly straightforward beat. The vocals are pulled high enough in the mix that they are often intelligible, even though they’re smeared with delay. It’s only in the track’s final minute, when the high-pitched and gnarled samples fade in, that things get appropriately weird.
Sensory overload is Chippendale’s forte, and as a member of Lightning Bolt, he’s helped make some of the most authentically psychedelic music in recent memory. All My Relations makes a few nods to conventional songwriting, but, really, it’s just as dense and repetitive as anything the drummer has ever put out. Using the multi-track setup, he colors in the nooks and crannies between snare cracks with the kind of stoner-shrapnel that would make Boredoms jealous.
The record’s most experimental move, by Chippendale’s standards, might be the printing of a lyrics sheet on the inside jacket. Some of them are surprisingly laid back. “I’m just trying to keep my head straight, keep my mouth above the waves, trying to create something great,” goes the closing line of “1000 Years”. “But I just take it day by day.”