Review: Grey Guides – Beast Mask Supremacist

grey-guides-tape-coverI picture this: a gigantic, industry-grade cassette player spewing chunks of tape at random intervals. It bunches up in the spokes and stops the mechanism from turning properly, creased and knotted and torn to shreds, spilling over the chassis like the explosive regurgitations of ten brown party poppers. The situation is beyond repair. I can discern tiny remnants of the original tape contents (voices in ritualistic wail and jeers of lunacy, abstract guitar experiments) but they flicker and fold over themselves, tattered and dying in the wake of some dreadful act of vandalism. All that’s left is the intermittent, malfunctional bursts of the tape machine trying to persist regardless. It churns the tape into an even more gruesome state, coughing up balls of static and spluttering in stop-start magnetic plosives, while traces of instrument performance ride the noise like tattered leaves kicked up on the wind.

I think of Beast Mask Supremacist as a noise record. Not just because it’s an abrasive listen, but also for how it devours itself so cruelly and carelessly. There’s a deliberate self-sabotage at play. The more Grey Guides force the reels through such a broken machine, the greater the damage; the enunciation of each sound only accelerates the rate of decline, pressing more weight upon each fold in the tape, teasing out each split in the acetate. “Millipede In A Doll’s House” sounds like a single choral vowel (“aaaah”) looped over and over until the pitch and fidelity start to wobble and wane, while the edges start to fray under the persistent attacks of a hedge strimmer. “Just Burned Down A Care Home” is a depiction of the rubble that remains at the denouement of the track title narrative, with ambience and feedback forever crumbling into smaller fragments. Each piece is indulgently destructive. In the end, all that’s left is the churn of process and the mangled laments of playback failure, as the machine demolishes the very music it was designed to amplify.