Friday, January 23, 2009

Kusikia, "Turtle Wars" (Self-released; 2008)

In the East African language of KiSwahili, kusikia means both to hear and to feel. Clearly, this Portland-based duo of guitar and drums understands that sound is a vibration and music a nutrient, coursing through you, injecting energy into your body. In the case of Turtle Wars, though, music sometimes feels more like the fever cycles of malaria, with unrestrained outbursts taking hold of lilting refrains.

Kusikia has the angular edge of Slint and the languid attitude of Delta blues, cultivating a live sound in which things like loop pedals are conspicuously absent. But really there is no saying exactly where this band is coming from, although one might presume that it’s a despairing realm. Then again, right before guitarist Nsayi Matingou throws down the deep and swaying theme of “D,” she lets out a happy giggle. Like “D,” tracks “Danger” and “Trouble” follow a similar improvisation-friendly structure—and they are just as foreboding: Matingou puts down a heady guitar line, singing in rich murmurs over Peter Ryan’s intricate drums as the tension builds; finally it erupts into malarial tremors of gnarled riffs and skittering crashes, only to return ever more gently to the original motif. The driving beat and cutting chords that open “Heart,” and the propulsive three-chord bass and hoe-down beat to follow, offer an invigorating change of pace. “Rumbly” forms the album’s fever pitch, beginning with a crushing blast that segues into a strained, stabbing motif. As Ryan clobbers his toms and cymbals, Matingou repeats creepily, “I just wanna be friends.” The mood lifts at the end of closer “War,” when Matingou breaks into laughter. Ryan, with his wacky shrieking, seems to indicate that the fever has passed.

Yet it’s not finished. Kusikia has been tearing across the northwest and, in due course, their bruising but brittle sound is sure to materialize in recorded form again—indeed, like most strains of a defeated malarial fever. Unlike such a scourge, however, many listeners will be more than happy to welcome Kusikia’s heavy doses of catharsis into their body.

Rating: 71%


This review was published Wednesday on Cokemachineglow.

The Best Business Names in America

Bringing a close to an update hiatus, I present to you the latest Best Business Names in America list, which I've compiled since August in my capacity as an employee of GMP. (Check out the previous lists here and here.) Feel free to e-mail me with any suggestions for the next list.

He Who Eats Mud

The Cloak and Dagger

Negod Gwad

Lucky Wang 2

The Flying Carp

Ain’t That a Frame

Xtreme Bean!

Don’t Eat The Furniture

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Robot Village


Crafty Olde German

The Butler's Secret

Butler University

Stoner, Inc.

High As A Kite

Hip Hop Horses & Decked Out Dogs

Gonzo Parenting

Paranoid Parents Stop Worrying Shop

The Portable Baby

Gypsy Baby

I Know You Like A Book

La De Da Books

Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore



Pow! Science!

Whoops! & Co.

Screamin' Monkeys

No More Monkey Business


The Wacky Shack

Cardthartic, LLC

Ro Sham Beaux

Coolest Toys On Earth