September 10th, 2011 | Album reviews

(Out now on Thin Wrist Records)

Live performances by Tearist are emotionally charged, cathartic and brutal in terms of their powerfully sparse physicality, involving scrap metal and other found objects. For their full-length on Thin Wrist Records, they’ve compiled a dark collection of live recordings that epitomize this lo-fi aesthetic. Yasmine Kittles’ voice howls in and out of the mix like a wounded beast gasping for air. Driving synth beats from William Strangeland emerge from the fog on the first track, “Civil,” and push harder throughout the album, moving into territory that’s downright danceable, particularly with the B-side’s kick-off track, “Break Bone.” The album functions as a unified artifact, achieving a seamlessness that defies the span of time in which it was recorded. That being said, “Headless,” the second track from the A-side, emerges as a standout, exemplifying the duo’s ability to pull out an emotionally charged melody from a gothic landscape of drones, clangs and echo chambers. The crowd noise and the blown-out bass—especially early in the album—may lose some who are accustomed to the clean studio mix found on last year’s self-titled release on PPM, but those willing to dive in to this industrial synthpop soundscape will be rewarded with a gem that transcends the traditional live album and verges on being an art-object in and of itself, an idea further reinforced by the hand-letter-pressed jackets on the limited edition vinyl.

Walt! Gorecki