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Max Eilbacher plays release show for his new Red Anxiety Tracers

October 18, 2013
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EilbacherReleaseFlierIt can be easy to overlook the fact that local artist, filmmaker, and musician Max Eilbacher has as deft touch with amorphous ooze. Since 2006 he’s been a member of Needle Gun (video below), a noise-soaked group that swerves from knee-buckling punches to throat to tribal séances to the ruckus of two old television sets arguing after too many bottles of Schnapps—all of which is laced with an healthy sense of humor that isn’t afraid to call BS on underground music’s self-righteousness. More recently Eilbacher has supplied bass and electronics to Horse Lords, a quartet whose ongoing ability to meld Brise-Glace smarty-pants rock to Guru Guru-esque funky junk makes it one of the best live bangs for the buck.

Left to his own devices, though, Eilbacher indulges his inner Brian Eno. His 2011 solo cassette release Mescaline Headache revealed a collagist with a great touch for murky dynamics and genuine creep outs. His new Red Anxiety Tracers (Spectrum Spools) is a lovely immersion into a gorgeously swampy murk. Side one—which plays out like a single nearly 22-minute journey and is titled “Slowlo/Persistent Scenes/Did the Surfer Survive?” —moves from electronics squelch that crackle like microwave popcorn to a plush synth mood that establishes a calm, tidal mood, taking its time to wash back and forth over the ears.

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Cover of Red Anxiety Tracers

But it’s side two—whose track list reads “(intro) Geetar/No Room – For Breathing/Railtrax”—where Eilbacher really opens up his third eye. It opens with almost three minutes of percussive texture that bleeds into a ping-ponging collage of tones that establishes a subdued rhythm, the reassuring calm of breathing during sleep. Against this comforting backdrop Eilbacher folds gurgling, gloopy clusters of sounds, arrhythmic moments that disrupt the slumbering calm. Soon a few unsettling, high-end chimes are smudged through the mix and everything slowly begins to unravel: tinkling invaders here, animal-call-like sirens there. Electronic pulses become growls that transform into a thudding industrialized mechanism and by the end this menacing attitude has become a frenzied agitation, like a peaceful sleep absolutely upset but a horrifying nightmare that is gonna require more than a Klonopin chased with some Ambien to soothe. (Click here to view the wonderfully bent trailer Eilbacher made for the release.)

Max Eilbacher plays a record release show Oct. 19 at the Bank with Imaginary Softwoods (the synth-drone solo project of John Elliott, ex Emeralds), the head-expanding techno of the mysterious RRose, and DJ Soft Pink Truth.