Review: Sly & The Family Drone – Appetite For Tax Deduction

coverMany Sly records are lessons in persistence. They begin as piles of broken material (static dribbling out of frayed cabling, dreary-black slicks of feedback) before assembling, miraculously, into lively percussive workouts. It’s like a dilapidated motor vehicle placed under repair, drilled and hammered until the wheels start to turn all by themselves, squealing as the mechanism presses through layers of rust. Against all odds, the group manage to pluck life from the most infertile circumstances. In contrast, Appetite For Tax Deduction is an exercise in hopelessness: 32 minutes of visceral labour and stubborn belief, rubbing together husks of noise in a futile bid to make a spark. The wheels never start turning, and Sly plough on without so much as a glimmer of recompense.

It’s a congregation of sounds that wither and die of their own accord. Bass frequencies roar into being – throttling the valves of towering speaker cabinets – before crumbling into silence. Metal objects are clanged together, producing coughs of feedback and collision that vanish as quick as they come. There are moments where change feels imminent (such as the middle section of “Wine Into Water”, when the drones start to bubble on the brink of boiling point), yet the ascension always collapses back into itself, forcing Sly to start all over again. The air around these noises is forever thick with ungated hiss; the sound of several amplifiers in dormant expectation, waiting patiently to be roused by explosions of cathartic climax. Soon enough, this hiss begins to turn dull and stale. Optimism starts to decay amidst the damp of impotence and unfulfilled promise. Appetite For Tax Deduction becomes an ode to work for its own sake; a compelling, unrelentingly bleak feedback loop of expenditure and failure.