The Gate's fourth record, the not at all repulsively-titled 'Stench', was recorded out in New York and birthed a few good twists and turns in the time between its inception and release. The power metal band went overboard with this one, bringing in touches of psych and funk, as well as their usual love of jazz. Weird world, my friends.
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I kind of feel like Extreme Noise Terror should hand over their band name (along with all the badges they’ve collected from Angry Music Scouts) to The Gate. While the former is a grind band and ‘Stench’ is the work of some sort of doom/black-metal free-jazz collective, this is the most formidably gruesome music I’ve heard in a very long time. Every instrument sounds like it’s being bent to breaking point and then back again, with coffee-percolated ambience setting some sort of irreducible sound map for everything to fall on. The best part is the drum fills, which randomly roll around in the muk Dan Peck, Tom Blancharte and Brian Osborne are creating.
According to the official press brief, the trio get by with nothing more than a tuba, a double-bass and a bit of affectionate percussion. It’s not something you can really question, when you hear the record: the brassy sharpness is there, for sure, and there’s even a bit of booming Mingus bass buried under the cacophony. The drums, they’re definitely there, in an Oren Ambarchi kind of way: they are just there, and they will always be there, and you will hear lots of them. And the whole thing comes together like Eric Dolphy jamming with the Body.
That’s pretty much all there is to describe, but rest assured there’s about ten times more to hear: this record perfectly distills the joy found in listening to free improvisation, the little sounds and moments of accidental epiphany. Fans of Haino's scientific nonsense and Nisennenmondai (minus their melodic bits) will fall in love.
Picture if you will, benevolent Satanists making cups of coffee and tea for their friends in a wind tunnel whilst wearing velcro suits.
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- Stench by The Gate
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