Equipment Pointed Ankh :: From Inside The House

Blasting out of Louisville, Kentucky, is the mutated and industrial avant-pop of Equipment Pointed Ankh. Released at the top of the year from Bruit Direct Disques, From inside the house, the third album from the band—currently billed as a quintet comprising improvisers Jim Marlowe, Christopher Bush, Dan Davis, Ryan Davis, and Shutaro Noguchi—is an envelope-pushing statement of sonic adventure. With a kitchen sink approach that bridges no-wave rock and industrial drone with chamber-jazz and ambient kosmische, the band’s music is arresting and surprising, keeping you on your toes from the jump with a fully-formed repertoire of singularly chaotic beauty—distorted guitars and gothic, “Planet Claire”-esque synths blurring with muted, menacing horns and droning drum-machines, a distant echoed vocal calling “check.”

It’s a no-holds barred variety of experimental music, both thrilling in its versatility and startling in its unapologetic discord. On “Belmont Hand Wash/The Ever-Widening Hat,” the group sets a bubbling, hollowed beat against a crescendo of carnivalesque dissonance—something resembling an accordion conducting an orchestra of cymbal percussion, hushed dashes of piano, and the distant, cry of saxophone. The song fades into the buzzing of a more Cluster & Eno-informed ambience and the ripple of fourth-wave synths against what feel like now thunderous crashes of sax, a greater urgency expressed through the sudden wave of calm.

The seven-minute spoken word title-track is undoubtedly the album’s centerpiece—a quietly gorgeous expanse of experimentalism, opening with a swarm of guitars contrasted with spacious piano and horns, their gentle grace regularly intruded by the ringing of a phone. Abruptly, the piece alters itself entirely onto a canvas of bubbling, minimalist electronic percussion and the voice of guest Jenny Rose, offering elusive and elliptical non-sequiturs (“I’m making plans for these flowers that don’t include me / I’ve removed the author’s portrait from the back of the book and let the subtext of the second chapter be more natural”) against bursts of rippling, monumental horns. The song and, really, the album taken as a whole, sneak up on you with these moments of strange, darkly stirring beauty. The nocturnal tango concluding “Paper Sink” sounds almost soothing, albeit no less menacing, after the song’s preceding wash of hypnotic ringing and sawing industrial gurgles. The musicians conjure a fever dream, increasingly dangerously in its allure and then over an instant, just before the moment of no return.  

Equipment Pointed Ankh proves true to its name, breathing life into experimental and improvisational music and revealing almost as much about the listener as they do themselves, illuminating our own capacity for suspension of disbelief, a willingness to dive head first into an infinite pool of unknown. Even better, the outfit seems to be releasing music at a relentless pace—having already followed this release with a collection of outtakes, a live recording, and a new record called Downtown!, being issued via Cincinnati, Ohio’s Torn Light Records. Some truly sacred, weirdo work at play here. | c depasquale

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