Sunday, February 15, 2015
Sunday Split: Lé Betre / King Buffalo
The devil's in the details, they say. I'd argue the devil IS the details. What else could explain how Goddamn delicious things can turn out when mass production is given the middle finger and boutique labels craft a product this enticing? I don't know who sold their soul, but the attention STB records devotes to its DIY ethos is incredible. The label has already proven they're no underdog, taking mere minutes to sell out of nearly every album they've released. But how has it remained sustainable? Especially considering the dearth of vinyl pressing plants paired with increased demand (not to mention all that Record Store Day bullshit).
Last month, STB delivered a 12" tandem from Goya and Wounded Giant, executing telegraphed stoner/sludge/doom and flattening our senses. The gorgeous slab o' wax brought with it an announcement of what fans could expect next: A heavy blues split showcase between Sweden's Lé Betre and Rochester's King Buffalo. Any way you dissect it, this beast covers every hunky corner and finds two perfect marriages. First, the bands fit side-by-side like round pegs, demonstrating echoes bounced off one another while suffering no busted continuity from Side A to Side B. Second is the marvel of bracketed senses, locking the visual with the aural and sending listeners skyshot into another time and place.
Lé Betre's plucky, psych-y fuzz-fest is auspiciously introduced on the quick cruise of Gowns & Crowns. Spooky elements keep us grounded only so long before we're brought up from the thicket and flung to another continent in another era. Snake Eyes smacks us upright under massive riffs, lifting like smoke and plunging like slow-motion boulders razing the hillside. Marcus Jonsson's vocal goes classic without being derivative as a riff-resin accumulates, ultimately sending us toward a fuzz-bath closer.
By The Great White Lights slows with a somber strum before rupturing into a punchy, mossy exposal. Basslines motor this stoner-blues cruise before breaking under the simplicity of fireside lament. Jesper Eriksson sifts ash in search of bony answers, shifting moods and tempos. Stomps become shuffles, shuffles become focused trots. And the coiled, revved heaviness of Mother crushes under the weight of all of Side A. Riffs weave, cymbals emit dust, and the trodden whole is fucking brilliant. As the thickness parts, take a breath. Lé Betre end on one final, gravel-drenched promise.
Vinyl's warmth augments King Buffalo's brand of spray-painted fur, blasting a blues crunch on New Time. A distant vocal float chases the steady stoner bass-roll, while guitars flaunt a late, fixated solo. Whew, thickness abounds! Alternatively, Like A Cadillac maintains the riff-'n-roll atop a more upbeat, beer-spilt bar jam. Guitars rolls downhill and storm back, breaking strummy passages with dust storm spirals, shimmying with furry comfort and smiling at every oncoming bump in the road. This is just too fun.
On the eleven-minute Providence Eye, KB build repetitive blues progressions toward a spacey dust-roll, an extended jam of deliberate assertions. Structuring steadily, one brick after another, this closer escalates heavenward on the gradual foundations formed. Thunderous roll-outs swell and contract to craft a sound that's immersive and captivating. Guitars flex for their marquee just before pacing gives a second wind. These cats know what they're doing, hitting the brakes and plugging holes with chugging riffs. Lacing their trademarks through a steady dousing of sandy, spicy deliciousness, this trio's punching their ticket.
Experiencing these sounds on any format other than vinyl is certainly better than a kick in the neck with a golf shoe, but why reach for ground beef with prime rib on the grill? The precision and care put into the craft reach their pinnacle on this split, offering the warmest and truest delivery of an already incredible sound. Whatever's coursing through the veins of STB Records is adept at sniffing out chops, and everyone involved with this split gets today's nod.
Check out the links below at 12:00 Noon EST on February 21st. Trust us, they'll go fast.