Rapider Than Horsepower – Do Not Ignore the Potential

Rapider Than Horsepower
Do Not Ignore the Potential

The artwork certainly provides some visual clues as to what the aural experience will entail. It’s got, like, lightning bolts and pictures of bears and squirrels and fierce cats on it. So, yes, we are now entering fucked-up noisy post-punk territory. This is a split between two fairly long-running – for this revival scene – bands, who each provide a different take on post-rock deconstruction and attempt with varying levels of success to create something new and noteworthy.

The Mae Shi are up first. These California dudes make music with drum machines and sequencers as well as the traditional string and percussion instruments. And they manage to put together some pretty interesting songs, chopping up pieces of affected vocals, pretty synthesizer tones, and plenty of drums. Their seven songs hit upon a number of genres, textures, and tones, from the glitch-laden exclaim-fest “Massibely Overwrought” to the laid-back, almost IDM “Remarkably Dirty Animals” and the faux-dancehall of “Heartbeeps.” One great thing about the Mae Shi is that these guys manage to throw in a nice little melody here and there to leaven the harshness of the whole package. This side of the split starts things off on the right foot.

Rapider Than Horsepower provides 11 of the 18 songs on the split, (there is also a track, titled “Nothing,” which is 10-plus minutes of silence – stop doing this, bands!), and unfortunately these guys aren’t able to build on the momentum of the Mae Shi set. Their songs, most of which run between one-and-a-half and two minutes, are shot through with weirdo rhythms and tons of clean guitar noodling, capped off by amelodic yelping and screeching – so pretty much par for the post-punk course. They are certainly energetic, and their exuberance goes a long way toward addressing the lack of traditional songwriting chops.

Most people could probably live happily without ever hearing a song about sneezing, but Rapider Than Horsepower doesn’t want us to take that chance – “Ha-Chew” is their ode to tiny particles flying out of our noses at breakneck speeds. Of course the subject matter is far – very far – from the point here. It’s just so crazy, man, the way these dudes subvert all of our revered rock idioms – or maybe it would have been 20-plus years ago. Now this shit is a genre just like anything else, with some good bands, some bad bands, and a handful of awesome ones. Rapider Than Horsepower is just one of the good ones.

This is a really good opportunity to check out two of the more notable bands who fall into the weird or fucked-up rock category in one convenient package. Between the Mae Shi’s diversity and Rapider Than Horsepower’s vibe, it’s a very diverse bunch of songs that also cohere stylistically.