Year of release: 2017
Brooklyn-based noise makers Guerilla Toss are one of the more fascinating genre-blenders in recent years; distilling a sound that can only be categorized as schizophrenic with elements of new wave, post-punk, squawking jazz, and experimental dance music. In the past, their work has straddled the line between dizzying psychedelics and ear-scraping noise with little regard to listener's eardrums. On their latest dance-acid trip GT Ultra, the band seem aware of this tenuous line by embracing melody and sonic texture without completely abandoning their freak flag.
Coming on at times like a weird combination of Talking Heads and The B52s, GT Ultra sees singer Kassie Carlson flinging out shouted/sung/spoken word-style rants over drummer Peter Negroponte's propulsive drumming, Greg Albert's funky bass, and keyboardist Sam Lisabeth's warbly analog synth lines. Overall, the tunes have a firm emphasis on production clarity, even as tracks like "Dog in the Mirror" thump with jagged tropical-sounding percussion and spacey blips. On "Skull Pop", they even indulge in some geeky 80s dance kitsch, while album closer "Dose Rate" sounds like a digitized PSA announcement with remnants of 70s soul/funk dosed in mushrooms.
Throughout, Guerilla Toss seem like they are setting certain parameters for themselves while simultaneously never becoming boxed in. At any given moment, the music sounds like it could go in any number of directions, but there's a newfound confidence on display here that feels like a step toward maturity. If on their past records the band relished the chance to unspool chaotic jams simply for the sake of it, then GT Ultra is the sound of that chaos blossoming into something richer and more accessible, but still highly idiosyncratic.