Vile Imbeciles – Jennifer/Tramp (Tea Vee Eye)
Stepping in the reasonably hallowed footsteps of Liars and Erase Errata, Vile Imbeciles are certainly better than their name, full of vermin-like menace and almost hickish snarl. Their guitars are too distorted to be picked out easily (definitely the most suitable way for them to be), the bass crawls around like an angry baby, and the vocals growl entertainingly enough. At their best, on the scuzzy and occasionally brilliant Tramp, those confusing guitars stalk the spaces in the bar very effectively, while everything else, chants and bass and drums, take care of the raw power. Without the guitars in that song, it’s nothing.
Also included on this double A-side is the one-track ‘mini-album’ Death Jazz. What a fucking wacky title that is! Wouldn’t it be fun to include incoherent fragments of noise and atonal guitar waddles with no regard for any thematic construct or at least artistic basis? If the intention was to have no intention, then it’s not made clear. Even 4’33 had a point. It all begins to tighten up in about six minutes time (though by this point there’s a daunting twenty-five still to be explored), and the occasional groove established, but not in a satisfying way that juxtaposes disharmony with harmony. This is noise, but not clever noise. Sometimes, there are glimmers of homophony that are just so welcome – the power of them goes not unnoticed amongst the mire.
Are they being funny? With such a silly 17 year-old’s title, Death Jazz is as confusing a specimen as you might find. The band align it with Ornette Coleman’s concept of free jazz, but there are none of the anchors to reality that made it so powerful. When Coleman opposed his manic solos with the regularity of his accompaniment, the effect was so much more powerful than Vile Imbeciles manage to achieve. Because there are no reference points (something that’s usually a positive), the listener is totally unable to contextualise the performance. A shame, because much of this performance is interesting at least. At their best, they manage to entertain as they experiment, but lessons in musical placement and decision-making might be required.
This all comes out on Monday March 30th through Tea Vee Eye, more info here.