Album Reviews

Stella Research Committee: A Proposed Method for Determining Sanding Fitness – “a menacing blast”

The Cincinnati trio unleash their finest album yet.

The Midwest is a melting pot for creation. Often overlooked in favour of east and west coasts, over the years the amount of vibrant art that has derived from American’s Rust Belt states is almost too hot to handle.

Noise-rock and the Midwest have always been likely bedfellows and the genre can welcome yet another miscreant into the pantheon. Stella Research Committee.  

Emerging from the underbelly of Cincinnati, Stella Research Committee are Kevin Hall (guitar, vocals), Tony Squeri (electronics, keyboards) and Lauri Reponen (drums). What these like-minded degenerates are guilty of is producing one of the finest noise-rock albums that is likely to leak from the vaults this year.

The noise-rock community has never been short of a sense of humour and it doesn’t stop here, with Stella Research Committee‘s brilliantly titled fifth long-player, A Proposed Method for Determining Sanding Fitness.

With ghoulish sythns and a feral surf-rock lineage, Stella Research Committee emit a subversive-hearted noise-rock racket that is bound to draw an assemblage of oddities that will grow to love this paranoid shambles.

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Stella Research Committee produce the kind of menacing blast that has an unflinching tribal quality. Truly uncomfortable in their own skin, but instead of jumping out of it they immerse themselves in the dread, seeking virtue in the most neglected corners of the soul. This grotesque, belching uproar is something even crusty cynical punks of yesteryear would consider the real fucking deal.

It all starts with Murdurd, a worthy soundtrack to a nightmare where you wake up on the cusp of being tossed into a yard-full of vicious dogs. Arpeggios stop and start feverishly and if anything, Stella Research Committee take the idea of Sonic Youth‘s In the Kingdom #19 on the back of an extra tab of acid.

Stella Research Committee - A Proposed Method for Determining Sanding Fitness

Nails bathes in no-wave with rumbling rhythms that are as creepy as a train carrying a load of dead-eyed souls, while the burgeoning rockabilly and echoes of surf-rock on Dusktop are dancey and dangerous rolled into one. The song showcases Stella Research Committee‘s belligerence and unpredictability. All told, it’s the kind of aesthetic noise-rock luminaries such as Killdozer and Scratch Acid produced.

Sauerkraut sees Stella Research Committee unleashing their inner Suicide, knocking out more surf-rock reverence in a slow-motion fashion like Man or Astro-man? may have given us during their heyday.

With swelling synths and tumbling percussion, Sanding and The Blast Cabinet Conference are paranoid freak-outs with Hall sounding completely deranged, like he is clutching thin air through the darkness in an attempt to escape a graveyard crawling with the walking dead.

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Hanging in my Screamer spits and snarls with Hall carrying the kind of swagger we once associated with The Icarus Line‘s Joe Cardamone during the Mono era. The short burst that is Monologue follows a similar path, portraying a no-wave-y noise-rock maximalism.

Which leaks into the finale of River Rd – a song that builds, reaching a cacophony of white-hot noise, rising above the malaise Stella Research Committee so comfortably revel in during the preceding eight songs.

In their press release it’s stated that Stella Research Committee bring to life Midwest austerity and it’s hard to trump the summation.

Those existential burdens that manifest a hideous cynicism and Stella Research Committee open up the curtains and invite us into their world of chaos with A Proposed Method for Determining Sanding Fitness. A dark twisted horror film played out on tape.

Quite simply, it’s a glorious mess.

A Proposed Method for Determining Sanding Fitness is out now via Cruel Nature Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

5 replies on “Stella Research Committee: A Proposed Method for Determining Sanding Fitness – “a menacing blast””

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