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Uniform & Portrayal Of Guilt

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PhilaMOCA

531 North 12th St.

Philadelphia, PA 19123

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Uniform & Portrayal Of Guilt w/ Body Void at PhilaMOCA

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Uniform

What if the antihero in your favorite film or book had no chance to repent, reconcile, or redeem himself? There’s no victim to rescue. There’s no evil to thwart. There’s no tyranny to turnover. Instead of saving the day against his better judgment, he just walks a Sisyphean circle of existential malaise doomed to repeat yesterday’s vices without the promise of a better tomorrow. Rather than tell this story on the screen or on the page, Uniform tell it on their fourth full-length album, Shame. The trio – Michael Berdan (vocals), Ben Greenberg (guitar, production), and Mike Sharp (drums) – strain struggle through an industrialized mill of grating guitars, warped electronics, war-torn percussion, and demonically catchy vocalizations.

“Thematically, the album is like a classic hard-boiled paperback novel without a case,” says Berdan. “It focuses on the static state of an antihero as he mulls over his life in the interim between major events, just existing in the world. At the time we were making the record, I was reading books by Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, and Dashiell Hammet and strangely found myself identifying with the internal dialogues of characters like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.”

The lead-up to this moment proved just as intriguing as any of those characters’ exploits. Born in 2013, Uniform bulldozed a path to the forefront of underground music. Following Perfect World (2015) and Wake in Fright (2017), the group’s third offering, The Long Walk (2018), represented a critical high watermark. Pitchfork christened it “their most unified—and most deranged—record to date,” and The Line of Best Fit crowned them “vanguards within the genre.” In addition to touring with the likes of Deafheaven and Boris, they joined forces with The Body for a pair of collaborative albums – Mental Wounds Not Healing (2018) and Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back (2019) – as well as the live release, Live at the End of the World (2020). When it came time to pen Shame, Berdan made a conscious decision to include lyrics, marking a first.

“I wanted my words to carry a degree of weight on this record,” he says. “Books and cinema have always been integral to my life, and that is often because of how I relate to the themes and characters therein. I am naturally shy and terrified of being misunderstood. This time around, I endeavored to trudge through those fears in order to explicitly articulate what goes on in a dreary corner of my inner life. To put it plainly: I was in a dark place. It was the culmination of years of thinking everyone in the world was wrong, but me. I realized that I couldn’t control the attitudes and behaviors of other people, but it was my responsibility to look inward and fix what was there. I had to articulate what was going on in my heart, my head, and my soul. As I set about the task of writing everything down, I experienced exorcism. If I wanted any kind of reprieve, I had to let go of the narrative that the demons in the back of my head had been constantly whispering to me. For years I held onto my lyrics like personal diary entries. Now is the time for a different approach.”

This record marks the debut of Mike Sharp on drums, adding a natural fire to the engine. His presence grinds down their metallic industrial edge with a live percussive maelstrom. Once again, Greenberg assumed production duties behind the board at Strange Weather. Building on the approach from their last LP, the band perfected the powerful hybrid of digital and analog, electronic and acoustic, synthetic and actual that has become their hallmark. In another first, Mixing duties were not handled by Greenberg, but rather handed off to the inimitable Randall Dunn at his studio Circular Ruin. Of this decision Greenberg says, “On ‘The Long Walk’ we took a big step in adding live drums and guitar amplifiers. It was a stylistic departure but it had actually been the plan for years, we were just waiting for the right time to execute. The next logical step with ‘Shame’ was to hand off the Mix phase of production. An alternate set of ears in the Mastering phase is crucial to gaining a wider perspective and creating a powerful end result, I wanted to find a similar constructive collaboration but earlier in the process. Randall was the obvious choice, he has long been a teacher and mentor to me; Berdan, Sharp, and I have some all-time favorite records bearing his name. Randall and I have also worked in the control room together many times before - the Mandy OST, and co-Producing the recent Algiers LP ‘There Is No Year’ for example - so we already had an established workflow and shared aesthetics.”

The opener “Delco” fuses guttural distortion to haunting chants buttressed by muscular percussion. Short for “Delaware County,” the track reflects on Berdan’s upbringing in a suburb west of Philadelphia and “how beatings and bullying by these local hellraisers taught (him) how to keep his guard up and navigate a violent world.” Elsewhere, the jagged thrashing of “Dispatches” nods to “Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke and how thin the margin between personal stability and total collapse is.” Neck-snapping riffs kick “Life in Remission” into high gear as a spiteful scream spirals towards oblivion.

“The song is about people I’ve been close to who passed away and how I’ve become numb to death. A lot of these songs have to do with an internal dialogue and overwhelming sense of fear, uselessness, and dread constantly whispering at me, ‘You’re not good enough. Give up and join those you’ve seen disappear and die.’”

The near eight-minute “I Am The Cancer” closes the record, as Berdan adopts the perspective of “The Judge” from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridien, going so far as to crib his proclamation, “God is war; war endures”. In many ways, the title track “Shame” cements the core of the album with unhinged instrumentation and a brutal bark.

“It’s about self-medication not working anymore,” he admits. “This person is so tortured by internal ghosts from the past. He winds up pouring alcohol on his grief and guilt until he’s drowning. It was partially inspired by a Twilight Zone episode called Night of the Meek about a drunk, helpless department store Santa Claus who wants to make a difference, but feels incapable of doing so. That story has a happy ending. We’ll see about this one.”

It may not be pretty, but Uniform’s story is most definitely real. “All I can say is, I’m glad this exists,” Berdan leaves off. “It felt like something we needed to create. Just completing it is enough for me.”

Portrayal Of Guilt

We each have our own idea of what it means to live through a period filled with perpetual dread, a slowly burning world, and overwhelming darkness. In the case of Portrayal of Guilt, their tortuous afterlife comes with grief, loss, masochism, suffering, and pain.

On CHRISTFUCKER, their second full-length of 2021, Portrayal of Guilt plunges headfirst into unfathomable depths, creating a work of art that’s powerfully unsettling. “We think of it partially in the sense of scoring a horror movie,” guitarist/vocalist Matt King says. “We wanted to create an atmosphere of anxiety and fear.”

The entirety of CHRISTFUCKER is set to unrelenting, nihilistic, howling soundscapes, created by King, drummer James Beveridge, and bassist, Alex Stanfield. Each track tells a story set in the darkest of settings for the listener to interpret and explore.

*Beginning with the ominous “The Sixth Circle,” which features King shrieking over hypnotic guitar patterns and a thudding rhythm, the band eventually roars to life with a tyrannical blast, delving you further into its oppressive heaviness. On “Bed of Ash,” the band plumb new depths while exploring the mechanistic gnashings of industrial drum and bass. On “…where the suffering never ends,” churning, gruesome instrumentals provide the backdrop to a tale of brutal demise.

Recorded at Strange Weather and Circular Ruin studios in Brooklyn with Ben Greenberg, CHRISTFUCKER features guest vocals from Jenna Rose of New York darkwave outfit Anatomy (on “Sadist”) and Touché Amoré vocalist Jeremy Bolm (on “Fall From Grace”). Started in 2017, Portrayal of Guilt have released two full-length albums, two EPs, four splits & a digital single. They’ve toured the world relentlessly since their inception, playing with bands such as Deafheaven, Pg.99, Touché Amoré, Soft Kill and many more...

Body Void

BODY VOID will release their first album under the Prosthetic Records banner this April; Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth is a bold, ambitious four track blackened doom opus.

Recorded in June 2020 whilst the United States of America teemed with discordance and conflict under the heat of a sweltering summer and a tyrannical leader, Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth evolved into a document of its surroundings; a product of its environment. At Blackheart Sound in Manchester, New Hampshire the two members of BODY VOID worked with producer Eric Sauter, to process their feelings - both those that had been long festering, and those which were new and raw - into the four tracks that make up their third studio album. An additional layer of electronic filth was applied with the help of solo noise musician, and BODY VOID touring bassist, Entresol.

Lyrically, the album addresses the state of the USA within the context of the ever-decaying earth. Part love-letter, part manifesto, the tracks swing between the specific merciless destruction of climate change, and the complicit mindset that allows devastating harm to run rampant through society. The roiling disgust at the human impact on a cherished planet is juxtaposed with a defiance and devotion to embrace the Earth as it is, flaws and all.

The telluric nature of each track, in all their earthy, textured glory pay a sonic tribute to the earth. The expansive sounds and sludgy atmospherics make this a definitive doom record but with a progressive edge that hints at noise, punk and black metal. None of the tetrad of songs clock in at less than twelve minutes - with an organismical ebb and flow and a natural propulsion that prevents stagnation.

The album artwork depicts a deer mid-transformation, and reflects the themes of metamorphosis present in the music. Created by Indonesian artist, Ibay Arifin Suradi, who has worked with the band throughout their existence, the black and white image is stark in its beauty.

Far from being a lamentation of defeat, despite it’s oppressive sound, Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth is both a clarion call and the sound of devotion.

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PhilaMOCA

531 North 12th St.

Philadelphia, PA 19123

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Organizer R5 Productions

Organizer of Uniform & Portrayal Of Guilt

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