Formed in 2009 by Ryan Olson (Polica, Gayngs), Iaac Gale, Stef Alexander (P.O.S.), and Ben Ivascu (Poliça), “Marijuana Deathsquads is a gang first, and a band second”. A damn fine statement, and, having never heard them before, this is what led my curiosity into this unknown territory. I’m so glad that I did, for the rewards increase with every listen. “And nobody is ever really in or out of the gang. You might be a member of Marijuana Deathsquads.” Really? Count me in!
The main vocals feature effects of what I imagine the lovechild of Fever Ray & Atari Teenage Riot would sound like, and it’s a fine accompaniment to this crazy speed-altering joyride. ‘Ewok Sadness’ is a fine example of this, and opens the album with a slow burning dark ambience, before we get a taster of Policia’s duo-drumming tribal beats that turn into a ferocious free for all. Imagine the sound of 100ft waves falling down onto multiple computers crashing at once, and you have the first four minutes right there.
The album also features some guest vocal contributions: ‘Sunglasses and Bail Money’ (courtesy of Polica frontwoman Channy Leaneagh) and ‘Stacks’ (Justin Vernon of Bon Iver) sit either side of ‘Dissolves’ – and all three tracks bleed into one another without you even noticing, as could the whole album from start to finish.
These guests may feature elsewhere, and closing track ‘Vibrant Beasts’ could very well feature Har Mar Superstar, as he is credited on the album (and it is by far the sexiest track). But, my ears may be fooled due to the vocal effects used throughout, and this just makes me want to listen even more to try and find out where else they could be.
Extra layers of sounds seem to appear after every listen too, as if they were never there before – and this happens with every listen. Sonic peaks and troughs, schizophrenic tempos and some bizarre effects are melded effortlessly together into just over half an hour of one of the best albums I’ve heard in a while.
Depending on the tempo of the track, it’s like wandering/running around in a maze made of mirrors that constantly turn on you – you’re totally lost, but you keep on going to see where you end up next. Each time you come to a dead end, a bungee pulls you back, and the walls change again. It’s the breathtaking feeling of an adrenaline rush combined with electro-organic soundscapes warning you of an approaching apocalypse. You’re all invited to the soundtrack of the last party on earth.