Review: List Of Moths – S/T

It’s common for the stranger iterations of dance music to be the reserve of the basement club. Concealed from the idle interest of passing civilians, shut out from the nourishment of sunlight, reinterpreting the fragments of mainstream cultural dialogue that drip through the ceiling. For this debut EP by List Of Moths, we descend even further. We take several more flights of stairs down, spiralling away from the surface until we reach a room. Virtually pitch black, save for the waning red lights of four bulbs screwed haphazardly into the walls. Music blurts that through the darkness isn’t an augmentation of something familiar, but chewing and re-chewing of something misremembered – electronic dance music forced through endless funnels of mutation and sabotage, mangling itself over and over again. Miraculously, the odd handclap has made it all the way through. I can just about spot the shitty, smeared remnants of a hi-hat if I listen closely enough. There is also the vague, somewhat sinister invitation to dance, and to find a visceral kinetic equivalent to those slurps of onward movement. I dread to think what those body shapes would look like.

Melody has long since drained away. Instead, there are clusters of hums that linger at the back, dancing like lights in the distance, devoid of source, falling in and out of dissonant shape, overtones curdling together. At the front are rhythms built from all manner of gruesome material: crushed drum samples, hunks of rust, dehydrated reptile parts. The first track sounds like a rattlesnake shunting out of its old skin, with white noise flickering across an interplay of dull thudding and anxious hissing. The second sounds like a cascade of bursting gravel sacks, with bass drums stumbling beneath an upper crust of crackle and syncopated clap.

The absurdity escalates in the latter half. This is where List Of Moths starts to cannibalise itself, demolishing those last few semblances to physical material or conventional rhythm work. Track three: crumpled VHS footage of marbles in collision, flickering as the tracking slips out of alignment, sometimes lurching into reverse, sometimes choking as the tape bunches around the spool. Track four: the patter of bullets in dreams, the tumbling of alien junk down endless staircases. Nothing is repeated. Instead, the EP has become a slow worsening; a process exacerbated, mutilating its own joints through contortion, dragging me through chicane turns and wrenching double-backs. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, there is salvation. Those glimmers of tone in the background start to intensify in the final minutes, now glacial and optimistic, drenching everything in light and carrying the promise of resolution. And yet, when I’m still harrowed by the visions that run rife through those last two tracks, I’m reluctant to trust this offer of supposed safety.