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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Sludge - Bottom

This week's edition of Sunday Sludge needed a woman's touch, courtesy of a band called Bottom. I'm not talking about window treatments and a late-night "let's talk about us" conversation. I'm talking about a gargantuan, spooky sound that melds sludge with strong elements of doom, stoner, acid, and courageous experimental rock. The female perspective isn't lost in quicksand, though you also won't care who the sounds are coming from; you'll be too busy banging your head.

The band composed three expansive and grinding albums as an all-female trio, relying on strong groove to balance unwavering heaviness. Bottom introduced Made In Voyage in 1999 to strong reviews and eager live audiences, as the weighted crunch and bubbling-lava basslines of Whipping Child paralleled steady drums and mud-slinging guitars. The Garden soars with riffs and sears with stoner bass-groove, making you wish you'd stuck out your thumb in time for some asshole to pick you up off the highway.

On 2001's Feels So Good When You're Gone, Bottom fattened-up their rhythm and got their trucks a bit dirtier. Got Meth is a scathing slow rumble until dual vocals combat screeching guitars, while Meat Buzz is sped-up and probably gave birth to Helmet's Crashing Foreign Cars. Sludge certainly drives the rhythm on these songs, and there's nothing better than combining sexy vocals with plodding tempo.

Bottom got relatively quiet on 2005's You'rNext, a departure from their steady hum of fuzz and doom and an introduction to their artsy influences. They still love their despair, their warble, their butterfly-flutter drums; they also utilize horns and whispers. The slower Sina's vocals get, the closer you listen. Cryptic breaths stand out above distant flutes on By a Thread, while Nan Del Rio truly demonstrates low-volume effectiveness while grinding rhythm taps at the door. The vocals go from Nico's depth to Dave Mustaine's howl to Courtney Love's snarl to Mia Zapata's rage, and it's all done well. This is one stormy album, complete with sing-alongs (Rainy Day Blues), hollow drums (Requiem), and floor-sanding groove (The Traveller).

Bottom's most recent incarnation welcomes Kevin Hardicus (bass) and Chris Colebourn (drums), though the female perspective toward drudge remains. Check out the video for Lifer, where Sina barks, shouts, and whispers over swirling guitars that ultimately send the entire world into a death march. It doesn't seem to matter who's in the lineup, Bottom find a way to make Sunday morning a bit more grim than your grandparents would like. Let's hope it rains.

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