Ritalin Attack / James Doesn’t Exist – Split (13 April 2012, Torn Flesh Records)
Ritalin Attack – Gutter Bombin’ (07 May 2012, Torn Flesh Records)
Hey there. I thought it’d never get here, but it’s finally Friday!! And there was much rejoicing. Yay.
So, remember last week when I was talking about music journalists who somehow find the time to also be musicians?
Well, at that time I also started writing this review of the recent split release between Ritalin Attack (the brainchild of Ross Gnarly, of American Aftermath fame) and fellow one-man grind band James Doesn’t Exist, which was intended to be published that same day as kind of a companion piece. But then, as it often does, life got in the way and I didn’t get it finished on-time.
Then, ironically, on Monday I learned that Torn Flesh Records had issued another Ritalin attack release, called Gutter Bombin’. I said ironically, because here I sit, unable to complete one article written on-schedule, and meanwhile an entire album of music (well, more of a mini-EP, to be fair) had been written and recorded AND released.
It’s no wonder Ross manages to write and publish nearly 4,000 articles a week (approximately), and it’s also completely fitting that this artist’s name should refer to Ritalin. Also known as Methylphenidate, Ritalin is a drug often prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — probably a condition with a high rate of occurrence among performers and fans alike in the grindcore scene — despite the fact that the medication itself is a stimulant, and from a chemical standpoint is basically a milder form of cocaine. Of course I’m not a doctor or a scientist or whatever, but I have absolutely no idea why that would help.
Anyway, the point of all this is, I’ve now edited and amended what I originally had begun writing, so that now it covers both releases — including how to download each of them 100% free, from the nice people at Torn Flesh.
A couple weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook (there’s a reason why people refer to the news feed as a “stalker feed”) which, through the series of comments that followed, developed into a conversation between Ritalin Attack and James Doesn’t Exist, where the guys basically both said they wanted to put together a split release, then each of them said they had some material ready (or almost ready), and then somehow it was suggested that Torn Flesh Records be contacted (or maybe they just joined in the discussion too, I don’t exactly remember).
To make a long story short, perhaps about two days after the concept of a split record was first mentioned, Torn Flesh was announcing (also on Facebook) that the release was ready for downloading. I regularly deal with a lot of artists and music industry types, but I found this exchange interesting because I don’t think I’ve ever seen the entire process played out quite like that, and especially condensed into such a short period of time!
So naturally, I downloaded it. Just like all the TFR releases, the package is very thorough — with image files and PDFs that encompass all the artwork and liner notes, and the cover art in various sizes, and everything you could want in an album along with the actuall MP3 tracks — and, just like all TFR releases, you can grab the zipped package or any or all of the individual files, from archive.org.
The Ritalin Attack side of the split includes eight tracks that span approximately five minutes. That running time is somewhat inflated by the longest of the tracks, “You Feel Sorry for Who?,” which is about a minute and a half of drum machine pattern underneath a sample from Menace II Society.
Similarly-themed samples litter some of the other tracks as well, most notably a rant from Malibu’s Most Wanted that bookends the eighth and final track, “The Return of the White Kong.”
Interspersed between these samples and clips, are the songs themselves — tiny explosions of grindcore fury, typically consisting of the song’s title and little else in the way of lyrical content. (For example, one of the songs incorporates the familiar tagline “Headbang or GTFO” as both title and lyrics).
As to the actual sound of it — well, I remember when my younger brother was little, he had this toy tape player that had a built-in microphone so you could sing along with whatever you were listening to, and it would be broadcast through the built-in speaker. He used to run around the house with the volume turned all the way up, holding that microphone so that it was pretty much entirely inside his mouth, and sing (or just shout) as loudly as he could. That super-distorted, mostly-unintelligible noise is pretty much what you get with these Ritalin Attack songs.
The flip side (by the way, James Doesn’t Exist is the project of an individual named Nikolai Gawin who, according to the liner notes, records his music in a prison cell) is just slightly longer with seven tracks spanning about six minutes, also incorporates samples. According to the liner notes, these are bits of poetry that were written by (and read by) Steve Roggenbuck, a poet and blogger (according to Google). Steve spends part of the time talking about planets’ rings, and other assorted random topics. These songs, excluding the samples are not much longer than those on the other side, but they do seem to have a few more lines of lyric apiece. The vocal delivery is similarly verging on unintelligible, but seems to express a bit more furious anger. The instrumentation, too, is a bit more forceful and hard-hitting — and overall sounds somewhat louder.
The more recently released Gutter Bombin’ turns out to be comparable in length to Ritalin attack’s contribution to the earlier split: ten tracks which last right around six minutes altogether. Once again, these consist of drum machine, guitars, and shouting, all of which are overly distorted and a bit difficult to make out. The general tone here is somewhat heavier and deeper than the songs on the split were, though.
The subject matter tends to be pretty heavy and dark this time around as well — featuring songs like “Nothing to Live For,” “Cancer is the Answer,” and “Eradicate the Scene,” there is a good bit of venom and anger present here. Among the more memorable tracks are “Don’t Fucking Vote” (which seems to convey the message that all politicians are liars and crooks no matter which side they’re on), and “I am So Sad, So Very Very Sad (Crash and the Boys Cover),” where the spoken introduction (which names the song’s title) is longer than the song itself — kind of the opposite situation from Napalm Death‘s infamous four-word song with a two-word title.
If you like your grind short, loud, angry, and short, you probably couldn’t do wrong with any releases by either of these guys. Download the Ritalin Attack / James Doesn’t Exist Split here, and Ritalin Attack’s Gutter Bombin’ (TFR431) here. And all of Torn Flesh Records’ releases can be found here.