A Gun Called Tension
A Gun Called Tension

Cold Crush

Gun Called Tension is anger gone rhythmic. Principally a duo formed from hip-hop emcee Sean Reveron, of Free Association and Hot Shots II’s “Won,” and Modest Mouse/former Murder City Devils member Dann Gallucci, A Gun Called Tension has created a stern and often bewildering amalgamation of youthful music genres with their eponymous debut album. Short, blunt, and skitless, A Gun Called Tension seethes with everything post-aught genre-fucking needs.

Forging crippled hip-hop beats onto harsh guitar textures and alien soundscapes, the duo trades in a novel brand of indie-hop, one that swallows up myriad sub-genres of youth without feeling shop-worn or force-fed. “Foundation” is a slanted ragga slam on which Revereon stutters out his rhymes in a sunny island swoon, while “”Gold Fronts” is a static-damaged juggernaut, all live drums and post-punk guitar slashery. Rigid with sound and beat, “7th of May” is more typical of straight hip-hop, as Reveron’s rapid, inscrutable flow dissolves under the track’s heady piano samples and staccato string stutters.

To flush out this schizophrenic sound further, the duo enlists such notable guests as Roots Manuva, Airborn Audio, Spencer Moody of Murder City Devils, and most significantly, Pretty Girls Make Graves’ lead, Andrea Zollo. Moody’s shouting guides the skeletal punk assault on “Tension,” one of the record’s more noteworthy inclusions, as it’s the only time where Reveron doesn’t dominate the mic. Airborn Audio provides the album’s final track, a remix of “Thelonius” that trades the original’s spliced concrete beat for their trademark martian steelscapes. Like most of the guest spots, Airborn Audio manages to round out AGCT’s cavernous rhythms without overwhelming the album’s fluidity.

Despite this steady flow and sequencing, several tracks stand out, in particular, Zollo’s chilly duet with Reveron on “Electric Chair.” Atop a stark synth beat, the two join voices against reverbed tones and tripful blips, as much singing as chanting. The sedate tone steels Reveron’s frozen mantra-ing, and the effect can be likened to the best of TV on the Radio. Similarly, “Document” is a remarkable clarion call to misanthropy. Thick, pyromaniac guitar inflames a steady programmed beat. Reveron rages against the verse and sings the blues through the chorus, rankled and pained. Reclaiming the steamy affront that opened the album on “Hero” and “Gold Fronts,” the track closes the record proper (minus the bonus remix) on a quicksilver charge.

AGCT’s oblique fury seems all the more significant against the treacle and overtly political affront of bands like Green Day and Radio 4. Besides the direct references to our goofy Prez on “5 + 1” for example, Reveron’s malcontent spew is often imprecise, left to splatter onto whosoever’s within range. He thickens his protest with song and verse, and his frustration is old enough that it can’t be pinned on a single soul. Perhaps this is the first step in overcoming our November 2nd breach: simple, guttural passion that needs no direct target. Oh, and shit, a beat that pummels our oblivion.

Reviewed by: Derek Miller

Reviewed on: 2005-02-28

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