Reviews

Five thoughts on xNOBBQx’s Hamburger Hill

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1) There are no humans playing on this xNOBBQx record. Of course there actually are, two to be exact, but it’s more enjoyable to imagine this sound just suddenly appearing. xNOBBQx sounds like a phenomenon. If Jandek focused on rock and folk music’s negative space, then xNOBBQx seems to focus on the negative space within the negative space. xNOBBQx is a blurry scribble papered over an absence. xNOBBQx seems like a corrupted silence, or something only a fraction in existence. It’s the shadow that remains when the long hanging painting collapses from the wall.


2) The music of xNOBBQx is actually very jagged and abrupt and occasionally ugly, but because of the way Hamburger Hill is mixed, every edge is sanded into a throbbing, murmuring drone. xNOBBQx sounds like several bands playing several hills away. Only the fact of it being rock music remains. It is a truth, even though it cannot be substantiated. It is an assumption. Maybe this is just music. Maybe it has no other name.

3) It is difficult to avoid describing xNOBBQx in the same way many other writers have done for groups like The Dead C. xNOBBQx shares some sonic similarities to groups of that ilk, but Hamburger Hill is not and cannot really be a statement or a critique of the rock complex in 2014. At least not a relevant or interesting one. Instead, xNOBBQx exists even though rock music has been declared dead numerous times.

xNOBBQx relishes the decay. It celebrates it. It does not want anything to be done about it. It is rolling in the filth, maybe even taking sips from it. Not just rock music though: any sonic phenomenon that implies grit or substance, or power. It relishes the collapse of these characteristics. It relishes the death of demonstration, of emotional signposts, of narratives and interpretations. It is just a series of sounds, and because it sometimes accidentally sounds like rock music, that is what we’ll call it.


4) Adults used to tell me to avoid rainbow flavoured Paddle Pops because they were, the myth stated, the factory floor drippings of the mainline flavours, like chocolate, strawberry etc. xNOBBQx is like a rainbow flavoured Paddle Pop in this sense, and the myth is true.

5) No one could ever make a compelling argument for why xNOBBQx is an important group. This duo create the least consequential music you could ever imagine. Everything is so loosely threaded, so barely recognisable as music, that if you really assess what you’re hearing you may begin to feel like you’re just listening to things happening. Not men playing instruments, but things happening which involve men and instruments. xNOBBQx does not sound human. It does not sound measured or spontaneous. It does not sound artistic. It does not sound whimsical. It is a horrible ambiguous mess. It is transfixing.

**

xNOBBQx’s Hamburger Hill is available through Pulled Out Records.

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