Remember a few months back when I told you about Food Desert Recordings, the label who, since forming earlier in the year, has now put out a pair of charitable compilations?
Well anyway, today I’d like to make sure you’re also acquainted with another label that just opened up over the past few months. This one started out when an individual from British Columbia, who happens to hang around a few of the same Discord servers I sometimes frequent, was tossing around the idea of creating an explicitly anti-fascist, anti-sketch, and anti-capitalist cooperative (since unfortunately, way too many of them turn out to be far in the opposite direction). He joked that the name would have to be the most stereotypically Canadian thing anyone could think of, and came up with Syrup Moose.
The record label’s online bio clearly specify that it had just started out as a joke — which is absolutely true — but within weeks the collective found itself with an ever-growing roster and quite an unfunnily busy slate of upcoming releases, including cassette versions of each, as well as unique (and highly collectible) tarot card designs exclusively painted and printed for each new release.
Out of that already-extensive-and-rapidly-expanding catalog, I’ve selected one of the first as well as one of the most recent, to share with you this afternoon. The fact that both of these artists happen to be based in Pittsburgh is purely a coincidence — honestly!
Chloe Dancer – Chloe Dancer EP (Syrup Moose Records, 02 September 2022)
Drazen – EP (Syrup Moose Records, 09 December 2022)
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Single-member project Chloe Dancer was named, one would presume, for a Mother Love Bone title — a fairly short song fragment that was uncharacteristically wistful and emotional, from a band that was otherwise considered among the progenitors of early-90s grunge.
Divided into three parts, simply titled “Act I” through “Act III,” the 22-minute EP fades in, seeming like we’ve joined an already-in-progress epic prog composition starting to approach its grand climax. It features dreamy guitars and echoey-as-hell drums, but soon gives way to blackened (or perhaps more accurately, blackgaze) disharmonic murkiness.
Most of the material here — which is entirely instrumental — alternates between spaced-out proggy post-rock and blastbeaty chaos. But the unifying characteristic throughout is its lo-fi-ness; the distortion and clipping, especially in the louder sections, create a sound seemingly destined for release on an analogue medium, and an aesthetic that will certainly appeal to fans of old-school black metal and other similarly raw subgenres who are looking to branch out.
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Then we have Drazen, apparently recent transplants to the ‘Burgh from Raleigh, North Carolina, although they appear disinclined to publicly reveal much at all about their member(s).
Their brand-new-this-month EP, succinctly titled EP, includes five tracks chock full of thrash metal — lightning-quick riffs, harmonized leads, and piercing solos — hearkening back to the early-to-mid-80s as thrash was just starting to evolve into death metal.
Punctuated by harshly snarled blackened-death vocals, the music here gets a slightly more modern touch with its characteristic bassy, heavy grooves. Rest assured, though: this is a far cry from the overly-processed, sterile sound that too often plagues heavier music of the current millenium. Like the other EP discussed above (although not nearly to the same degree), here is another release that feels like it would be perfectly right at home embedded into a spool of eighth-inch magnetic tape.
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