October 27, 2016

LP: Space Camp - Emasculation Suite

Space Camp's heavy and hard-hitting soundscapes read like poetry.

The world is finally starting to catch up to the fact that men who play music are sometimes given a pass for their behavior. Whether it's being a jerk, taking up lots of space in any community, or becoming a hero for releasing mediocore content, men with guitars have the opportunity to glide through the world on easy mode while the rest of us meet challenge after challenge. Enter Space Camp, an experimental art-punk band from Connecticut whose heavy and combustible album, Emasculation Suite, knocks those challenges out cold over a high intensity display of jazz and deftly organized chaos.

On hazed-out second track “Christos Anesti,” they poignantly shout, "Long time listener, first time caller / Your all-dude pop punk show makes me feel smaller / Long time listener, first time caller / Your art in my airspace makes me feel smaller," as the song descends into chaos. Instrumentally, it opens with a concrete, swirling groove which expands as the drums and bass get faster and faster, taking on a heavier drone edge, while those lyrics etch themselves into your brain. This is followed by “Grounded,” where everything else drops out to center on a clean and bright piano. Halfway through, the spirit of heavy punk and gain galore seeps back in to completely take over. This sort of back and forth between clarity and distortion follows us into a street-punk inspired “Coolio's Eulogy (Funeral Breakdancer)” to a synth-thrashing “What's that Smell?”, creating a completely compelling cycle of a listening experience. Space Camp doesn't switch things up so much as to be hard to follow. If anything, this is a speed race you WANT to keep up with.

As is typical of heavier bands, lyrics can take a backseat to the actual music; they're not confined by melody and pop sensibilities. Many of these bands have the ability to vocalize real issues, instead of screaming about petty things (their ex-girlfriends dumping them, how bored they are in their hometown, etc.), but choose not to. Space Camp, however, manages to write meaningful and emotional lyrics, as well as create heavy and hard-hitting soundscapes without the use of a single guitar. On “Our Lemon Tree,” a wandering, theatrical piano piece opens the track before ripping back into a heartfelt musical destruction-athon of emoting. While it's a hardcore, head-banging track, it's juxtaposed against its lyrics that read like poetry: “A self-portrait in lipstick smeared on tissues in my front seat / 'Dysphoric at Forever 21' / Makeup on canvas 2015...Scan the radio and if CRJ or Justin plays / Then this Element's my home." Through all of Space Camp's contradictions, they're able to deliver some of the most original, refreshing hardcore in a long time.


Listen to Space Camp on bandcamp.

Ruune Magick is an ex-nomadic performer/current village witch living in New England. You can find their twitter during some moon phases at @ruunemagick.