E – self-titled

E - self-titled

E – self-titled

Although being part-promoted as a ‘return-to-noise’ vehicle for Thalia Zedek, after her more rustically-inclined solo wares of the last 15 or so years, the search engine-unfriendly E actually operate much more as a three-headed democratic beast.  With Zedek sharing her vocal and six-string-slinging duties with Jason Sanford (Neptune) and marshalled from the rear by occasionally-singing-drummer Gavin McCarthy (Karate), the Boston-based trio is another super-group of a kind – but satisfyingly not an obvious or ego-driven one.

Following on from a tremendous limited-edition debut 7” put out in 2014 – which featured Alec Tisdale warming-up the drum stool for McCarthy – this inaugural LP for Thrill Jockey more extensively sets out E’s mercurial manifesto. Seeped in angular yet airy arrangements, noticeably not anchored by a proper bass-playing role, the threesome entwine their own past pedigrees with extra shades of no-wave, post-punk and post-rock to give this 10-track set art in its heart and fire in its belly.  With the two prime cuts from the aforementioned seven-inch given reprised re-recordings as enticing calling-cards – namely the grinding and recoiling “Great Light” and the agit-punk-funk of “I Want To Feel Good” – the rest of the collection curls and contorts into innumerable shapes, sometimes in the space of the same song.

Hence, the searing yet clanking “Silo” finds Zedek revisiting her Come years with Gang Of Four guitar lines; the more abstract atmospheric Sanford-led “Delicate Fingers” could be an outtake from Sonic Youth’s skeletal self-titled first EP fused with Persian dronescaping; the percussive wordless interlude of “Treeline” would have fit well on Fugazi’s intrepid Instrument compendium; the wiry abrasions of “Regatta” feel like a flashback to Zedek’s time with overlooked Mission Of Burma-disciples Uzi; the bog-eyed McCarthy-fronted “Candidate” is a perfectly-timed political broadside with Volcano Suns-like eruptions; and the clanging and prowling “Fissure” merges respective elements of Slint’s Spiderland with Come’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

It’s not always a completely cohesive listen admittedly; with Sanford’s deliberately quivering vocal aerobics being less fitting than Zedek’s more steadfast raw rasp on the slightly-flawed finale of “Water” and across the hiccupping churn of “The Archer”.  However, on the whole this is a richly inventive and enthralling eponymous long-player from a side-project with legs of its own.

Thrill Jockey