...At a Loss
(Off the Records)
For this week's Blast From the Past we turn to North Carolina's cleanest children, Buzzov*en, who in 1997 recorded a full-length album for former New Times scribe Tom Bowker's Off the Records. Released in early 1998, ...At a Loss is a tour de force of addiction, tough living, aural sodomy, and excess. It is one of my favorite albums from the glorious era of sludge rock, even if it doesn't entirely fit the bill with its subtle touches of first-wave hardcore, metal, acid rock, surrealism, and noise.
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Fans of our own Cavity and Floor, as well as Bongzilla, Doom, Damad, Grief, Rorschach, and Jihad will like this release. Opening with a sample from one of Travis Bickle's Taxi Driver monologues, you know you're set for a seventy-minute festival of noir and horror. The gloom continues with "A Lack Of," "Kakkila" and "Loracei," digging deeper into loneliness and depression.
The middle of the album ups the sludge with a bastardization of ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" before slipping into the junkie fantasies of "Crawl Away" and "Dirtkicker." Like most of this album's tracks, the vocal work ranges from mumbles to growls to soft instances of actual singing. There''s no way these songs could ever be sung the same way twice. Meanwhile, "Whiskey Fit" provides what could possibly be the single here as the final track, "Left Behind," degenerates into thirty minutes of gargling, drowning, and claustrophobic monotone noise.
This album was recorded at Tapeworm Studios and engineered by Billy Anderson and Jeremy DuBois. The personnel is easily recognized as the strongest lineup in Buzzov*en history with Kirk "Reverend Dirtkicker" Fisher on vocals and guitar, Dave "Dixie" Collins on bass, and Ramsey/Ramzi "Simple Man" on drums. Formed in 1989 and formerly known as Sewer Puppet, Buzzov*en's ride ended in 2001. But they've reformed this year and hit the road, so watch for local shows. Peace through pills!