An Insult to the Sport shouldn’t work. Smashing slowcore against breakbeat rhythms with sharp departures into shoegaze — it should be a discordant din that doesn’t make much sense. However, A Country Western and They Are Gutting A Body of Water transform total chaos into sonic bliss. The new split, released via Topshelf Records, sees the two Philadelphia-based bands wage auditory assault with every fuzzy riff, blip, and glitch in their arsenal.
Aural overdrive, the release encapsulates the suffocating constant stimulation and deluge of information we’re flooded with daily. Embracing this sense of entropy, ACW and TAGABOW are unabashed in the way they blur stylistic lines. A product of the perpetual disarray we seem to be locked in, both bands have a maximalist approach that doesn’t compete for your attention but commands it.
They Are Gutting a Body of Water catapults you from the crashing drum and bass on “Elephant” into a schismatic six-minute-epic, “The Brazil.” Adorned with blown-out basslines and vocal distortion, the track unfurls with the same unpredictability as the split. There’s a sense of fluidity to the pair of songs that make each sonic swerve feel like the most natural choice, even as TAGABOW leaps between genres in ways you would never imagine.
The three contributions from A Country Western possess the same bewitching flow that makes you admire their ability to cross wires. The jungle influence on “Lung” gives way to the semi-familiar slack rock of “Keeping Up With The Joneses,” with a jolt that highlights the juxtaposition. Each transient phase of their tracks melts into the next, lending an ephemeral charm to the constant metamorphosis of their compositions. As the heavy-handed riffs on “Crossing My Lines” fade into an outro bristling with feedback, they usher in an alien silence that leaves your ears ringing.
The split thrives on these contrasts that come as a shock to the system. While An Insult to the Sport is ornate, the baroque arrangements aren’t arbitrary, but rather an intricate manipulation of moving parts. Intentionally clashing at times, they attempt to synthesize the incessant sensory overload and permanent state of disorder we’re all subjected to. Another scream into the already clamorous void, ACW and TAGABOW prove that if you listen closely beneath all of the cacophonous chatter, you’ll discover something spellbinding.
An Insult to the Sport is available as a 10” vinyl and cassette, which can be pre-ordered here. Something to be aware of when ordering, though: Topshelf’s mail order fulfillment company, Awesome Distro, recently went bankrupt, and abruptly shut down while still owing them tens of thousands of dollars and forcing them to relocate 17 years of merch with no advance warning. The property management company leasing to Awesome Distro has since cut off access to their inventory and is holding it as collateral, according to the Topshelf’s website. The label has launched a Kickstarter campaign as a way to fund legal defense and absorb some of the expenses associated with the sudden disruption. You can support them directly here.
TAGABOW will release their forthcoming album, Lucky Style, on October 17 via Smoking Room, and they will embark on a North American tour in October, culminating in a hometown show on Halloween at Baby Gap. You can stream An Insult to the Sport below.