Blood Loss by Remote ViewingRelease date: July 27, 2018
Label: Hominid Sounds
I was listening to Blood Loss the other day and part of my ceiling fell down. No kidding. I mean, it’s an old house and everything but just so you know, this is a loud and heavy record, a post-metal, post-rock, post hardcore, post everything, doom-grind house rocker. Remote Viewing is three fifths of Palehorse with friends from Million Dead and a string of other bands. I turned up fairly late to the Palehorse party myself, confused and already half-cut I wandered in just in time for Harm Starts Here and thought “woah, this is great!” Before I realised what time it was they flicked on the big light, said they’d made one last record and were calling it a day. Bugger.
Remote Viewing is a new band, with different things going on, but they’ve not strayed all that far from their path. They’ve added guitar to the mix and streamlined some of the wilder more experimental edges but Nikolai’s vocals still rage and their sound is still a bracing physical assault. Badly punning titles like ‘Whitney Houston, We Have A Problem’ are still in evidence as well, alongside the more pointed likes of ‘Fuck A Church’. Circumstances surrounding the end of Palehorse suggested it was down to the commitments of life in general and the draining financial grind of being a staunchly DIY underground concern. The title of opener ‘Suitcase Full Of Exposure’ seems to lean in to that same dark well of discontent. It’s not a happy toe tapper, more of a tortured scream for help. It moves at a doom like crawl but without any of the steady, numbing comforts of doom riffs. Instead it maintains a high end horror scream as slabs of sound smack into you. It’s like a distressed animal hit by a car, howling in terror and rage as it drags its crushed lower half behind it along the road.
The next couple of tunes pick up the pace a bit, like ‘Fuck a Church’ ending with a fierce punch. ‘Sonic Euthanasia’ is the fastest and most direct moment on the record, winding up to an almost joyful guitar line. You have to keep a look out for it though. Mostly they float between a variety of heavier genres but they keep their feet out of the sludge, never getting trapped in over familiar or worn song structures. This brings a visceral element of surprise, you can’t predict which way they’ll jump. Or slump. The tracks all run into each other as well only adding to your disorientation.
What of the choice of name? Remote viewing is a weird collision of science and magical thinking, a cold war military-occult technology for psychological warfare. Allegedly ‘sensitive’ agents sat in a room would attempt to uncover Russian secrets via astral projection or telepathic means. It’s Men Who Stare At Goats stuff and the CIA were still funding research into this voodoo until the 90’s. In the wake of the recent Helsinki debacle it’s hard to know if this seems quaint or prescient. There was a version in which differing sounds were played into each ear to create a third tone in the brain, thus opening a ‘channel’ to facilitate exploration. I’ve listened to Remote Viewing on headphones a few times (to keep the rest of my ceiling safe) and I’m pretty sure that’s not happening here, but you can see how those ideas are appealingly out there. Also it’s nice for a heavy band not to have Black or Skull or Wolves in their name, although they got Blood into the album title just in case.
The lyrical content is just about impossible to grasp but we’re assured “The music tells the story of cousins choking to death on the night bus. Of failed suicide attempts in provincial supermarket carparks. Of quiet, kind, generosity. Of parents dying. Of beautiful flower arrangements. Of a lack of patience, and then reprieve.” Seems pointless to quibble with that and the emotions are clear enough in the intensity and the animus of their sound. Is ‘Pelican’t’ a dig at Illinois’s instrumental doom titans, self deprecation or just a crap gag? Probably all three. I think it’s fair to say they’ve saved the silliest title for the album’s finest moment ‘Whitney Houston, We Have A Problem’ is an awesome epic. A kind of post-rock/doom hybrid that sees shimmering guitars rise from the murk. It winds steadily forwards until about 5 minutes in the drums come back thunderous and it goes all Killing Joke to brilliant effect. Blood Loss is an intense blast of crushing noise and wailing despair, an ideal soundtrack to some of our summers then.