Review: Consumer. + The Translucent Spiders – CON / TRA

3-Panel_JCard_FRONT_AIAt least once a year, I hear someone reciting that trivia bite about how a piece of paper folded 50 times would cover the distance from the earth to the sun. It’s no longer interesting to hear this recounted verbally, but it’s wonderful to hear Consumer enacting this principle through music. In a sense. At numerous points throughout his side of the split, snippets of lo-fi trip-hop are piled on top of themselves, looped until they become transcendent throbs of cheap keyboard circuitry and ragged spools of tape, reaching upward out of the bedroom window toward something far greater and more profound than their DIY means. Meanwhile, the voice of Matt Palenske (the protagonist of some delirious, Lynchian opera erupting inside his own head) is the incantation of someone only part-present in the rhythm and tonality of his creation. The other side of Palenske occupies an elsewhere we can’t see, beyond words and metronomic time and conventional harmony, while his physical self writhes on the bedroom floor, coiled in the wire of a 90s computer microphone. Somewhere within this mess – the gunk of distortion, the stumbling drum machines, the incessant loops of chants and synth – is an invite to dance. Who knows what this dance should actually look like.

As I transit into The Translucent Spiders side, the process remains largely the same. I’m dragged into wormholes of solitary musical moments. In this case, it’s a tumbling rock ‘n’ roll riff or a slurred jazz groove, folded in on itself until even the most mundane, innocuous musical behaviour becomes a gravity-defiant astral chute. Spoken passages conjure utopias over electronic hymns (“They saw candy forests and dragons that breathed fire, on all that was evil in the misty mire”), while the preoccupation with tiny notches of happening starts to scratch, like a fingernail worked back and forth, against the membrane between here and a vaster, much more wonderful elsewhere. Once again, my ear canals are caked in the grub of second-hand distortion and the dust kicked up off keyboards dragged down from the attic. Yet as I descend further into the spirals of saxophone or laser gun or space choir, the Spiders’ physical means start to melt into significance. Drum machines reform into rickety ladders reaching up into the sky. Without thinking, I start to climb.