!!!/Out Hud
Split EP


t’s been hard to forget the sight of a hundred hipsters shedding their collective blasé attitudes to the white-funk rhythms of Out Hud last summer. I still haven’t been able to explain how a band with such awkward stage-banter (and technical difficulties) could incite such a drastic shift from the indie-typical “hands in the pocket, head bobbing to the beat” crowd-movement. This acceptance of dance within one of the most rock-centric subcultures, Indie, gives the group a Primal Scream-like mythic status for me. It’s from this mythic platform that this re-release ends up a disappointment, yielding the predictable origins of Dance-Punk.

The !!! and Out Hud’s Split EP was first released in 1999 on vinyl. The EP seems out of step with my recollections of the time. As many of my friends were still spontaneously combusting with angst to Radiohead’s OK Computer, both of these bands focused this dissonance into dance. The push into dance provided a striking platform for !!! and Out Hud, given the bands’ members’ punk and experimental backgrounds. But this fusion of punk and dance isn’t without precedence and was the form of many, grouped into the No Wave (ESG, Liquid Liquid, etc.).

Thus, the reissuing of Split EP captures a moment when the bands, which share members, were just beginning to etch out a sound beyond their No Wave influences. Since then, however, !!! produced one of the most refreshing singles of 2003, “Me and Guiliani Down by the School Yard,” merging rock organic nature and dance’s electronic instrumentation to texture their anxious minimal funk. Similarly, Out Hud’s debut full-length, S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D., used an equally inspired amount of electronic drum programming and effects to shake free from repeating the Arthur Russell-dubbed out disco.

Produced before these developments, Split EP finds the influence still overshadowing the music. !!!’s “Instinct” uses a nice funk foundation that plays with the rock/dance music divide. Employing a hollowed out Isley guitar, the song’s bassline kicks with a marching force and is peppered with Nic Offer’s distant vocals. With a modest fidelity recording, “Instinct” is foreboding, giving glimpses of a sound that recently culminated in the madness of “Me and Guiliani...” However, “Instinct” sorely needs the delayed guitars (and other dubbed effects) that provides the tension of later work to distinguish the song’s 11 ½ minute jam and thereby loses steam halfway.

Out Hud fills the rest of the CD with three remixes. “jgnxtc” presents the most removed sound from S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. This is a mixed blessing, as the track’s electricity-laced drum programming builds, but is limited to a lost rhythmic exercise and comes off as underdeveloped. The two other tracks are closer to the expected post-rock dance, using dubbed out guitar and cello—playing with the two instruments’ echoes on a plodding bassline. “Jgndg” proves the most fascinating of the bunch, beginning with a nod to ESG’s “UFO” and playing with a tweaked ever-morphing drum sampling barrage, the song proves the most striking artifact between No Wave and Dance-Punk.

The reissue is an interesting glimpse into earlier work, but feels handicapped as lost-teaser for the expected albums in the coming months. Split EP proves this isn’t a sound without origins—because of it, the shock and ass-shaking fascination doesn’t grip nearly as tightly as two groups’ more recent Dance-Punk stomps.

Reviewed by: Nate De Young

Reviewed on: 2004-02-18

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