Get knocked over by some honest-to-god, present day No Wave! Exhaustion doesn't know what year it is which is absolutely a good thing, with some eschatological guitar abstractions and grizzly un-riffage. Take what you know about guitars and throw it out of the window like a TV cop who refuses to play by the rules.
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- Biker by Exhaustion
8/10 Robin Staff review, 13 November 2014
I always knew -- but I never really knew what No Wave meant. Exhaustion have changed that; when I listen to ‘Biker’, I feel like I’m listening to Total Control with the synth, the brightness and the dynamism subtracted, as if New has been converted into No and post-punk has been kept behind a cage. The vocals sound stern and accustomed to the darkness, like a sobered up version of Iceage, while the dissonant harmonics and rigged guitar squeal out in pain. There are only shades of the beautiful outside world on ‘Biker’, but they give you scope for the record’s misery, as well as its potential. You get them on songs such as “Haus Flipper”, with its irresistible but near-extinct piano motif, which rolls in for one second at a time and disappears with a whisper. Eventually, the notes become scoured in guitar squall, and get replaced by the no frills hardcore energy of “Silver Fog”.
‘Biker’ is grizzly but consuming; the reason it reminds me so much of Total Control -- aside from the obvious innate gloom and underground punk lunging -- is that it’s so constant with its rhythms, tightly constricting around its listener until it chooses to release them. The untightened drums of “Pure Duty” are torrential: it’s impossible to escape them. This record might have been made the No Wave way -- haphazardly and with a lot of hard-won improvisation -- but it comes out the other side as a disciplined monster. I've got a case of Stockholm Syndrome, though.
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