Sometimes you can’t help but be grabbed by things. For example, when someone mentions some heavy rock that also features cats. Like sign me up asap, please. The track in question was ‘P.U.U.R’ by GHXST, but by the time I’d heard of it, they’d had a new single out. Fortunately that single was ‘It Falls Apart’, which somehow surpasses their recent feline friendly work.
Trying to find a comparative for the sheer beautiful filth that is the guitar tone is almost beyond my abilities, with only ‘1X1’ by All Them Witches coming close. I can say that ‘It Falls Apart’ has got that sort of searing scooped midrange and muffled highs you’d want from this sort of crushingly heavy borderline-shoegaze, tearing through supremely stompy riffs. Come the solo, it’s almost a twisted Hendrix sound. The fuzz and wah combination is distinct, sounding as much like the guitar is being tortured as it is played. It’s just a touch less peaky, the sound near smothered rather than piercing. Skirting just outside of metal, it’s the perfect vintage psychedelic tone. With a similarly uncomplicated but compelling set of licks, the solo is fitting rather than pretentious.
Inspired by a classic 808, the beats are surprising, to say the least. Throughout the verses they’re laid back, going not much beyond keeping time. Then the chorus hits, and suddenly there’s a distinct hit of frenetic cymbal riding to bring a bit of spice. I never saw it coming, and the hi-hat probably didn’t either, with the touch seeming more common in music styles the US charts would call ‘urban’. More important than the inspiration is that it just works wonderfully, adding an energy not present on ‘P.U.U.R’.
While the whole soundscape stays relatively constant throughout, the central thread that ties it all together is the vocal. Reminding me strangely of either Queen Kwong or Laura Mary Carter of Blood Red Shoes for reasons that are far from evident, it veers more towards speaking, maybe even sneering, than singing. With a mountain of delay and reverb, the vocal fills a cavernous space. The lyrics add to this, lethargic enough to not result in an overcrowded mush, but sufficiently driving to not get lost in a void of noise.
In summation, if you want to be shoegazing, but maybe have those shoes be doing something more than being rooted to the ground, ‘It Falls Apart’ is the track for you. The Brooklyn duos eight years of noisemaking has paid off, resulting in four minutes of alternately sway and stomp inducing heaviness.
For a band with four years and five EPs under their belts, it seems criminal how little GHXST seems to be known. Hopefully, Dark Days will be the release to remedy that error, with the two singles so far giving the impression that it should be pretty immense.
Dark Days drops on November 16th on the band’s SoundCloud. Can’t wait until then? Tide yourself over with GHXST’s SoundCloud page.