May 27, 2011, 09:39AM

Sightings' Psychotic Noise

On Future Accidents, the band's eighth LP.

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Sightings, like the Magick Markers, or Mouthus, belong to a group of contemporary noise artists making markedly shambolic and unshaved rock music, or at least a perverted version. Sightings have been around for years making a gritty, repellant squall that has twice the power of most stadium acts (at least the ones left), but none of the broad appeal. Mark Morgan's metallic guitar yawp is the sound of pure pain, more viscerally real and upsetting than any imitation grunge fuzz, and the disoriented, hemorrhaged nature of their songs is key to a completely assaultive sound and attitude. The energy of their attack is infectious, if abrasive.
Future Accidents
is Sightings’ eighth LP in as many years, and it functions by most of the rules already established: harsh, overdriven industrial guitar noise backed by a dissonant bass throb and stuttered, syncopated rhythms. Sightings’ sound is distinctively monochromatic to me: their sharp, shrieking guitar tone is just brutal, but it was tough finding any kind of bent melodic edge in their sound. On Future Accidents, the band spaces out and allows their sounds to breathe and expand, creating a much less claustrophobic and anxiety-ridden sonic atmosphere. “The Knotted House” starts off snotty but dissolves in a rhythmic game of ping-pong between two guitar loops: a scraping, watery line against a gentle, bubbly tone burp. Expanding beyond their panic cave, for just a little at least, Sightings show a much more interesting sense of dynamics.
One of the main problems I’ve had with bands like The Magick Markers was that their determinedly chaotic and shambolic freeform style often led to dead ends. Where do you go when you start off sounding like a heart attack? Side B is “Public Remains,” a 19-minute audio collage that feels more like musique concrete than long-form jam. It ebbs and flows instead of stabbing and stabbing; the sounds and tones have color, and as a result it feels like something you can sink into rather than tiptoe into gingerly. Make no mistake: this is a crunchy, brittle, industrial sounding noise record, music for mania or psychosis. But Sightings are massaging their sound into something more heady and psychedelic, at least in spirit: sounds and motifs go through gentle variations as we move deeper into the swampy sonic soup. There’s no watery flange or chorus—this is a very dry sounding record, mechanical and engineered, like the soundtrack to Eraserhead. And like that soundtrack, you can’t listen to Future Accidents for too long before it becomes disquieting, and you start to hear how this could be what goes on in the heads of schizophrenics. That just means Sightings is doing something right, and they remain a band that can physically upset people not with the aid of image or myth, but purely through their jagged music.


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