[sic] Magazine

The C.I.A. – Surgery Channel

Kicking off 2023 by revisiting his C.I.A. band alongside his missus, Denée (vocals, lyrics), and The Cairo Gang’s synth-player Emmett Kelly, the busiest man is music, Ty Segall (and, yes, his trademark fuzz tones), dusts down the trio’s trashy, 2018 electro-punk effort and plugs its dormant state straight into a defibrillator. Thematically and lyrically pitched somewhere between medical intervention and surgical torture (a critique, perhaps, of the C.I.A. themselves?), Surgery Channel is a little more serious than its underproduced predecessor, but largely still a drive-it-like-you-stole-it, sparking-on-the-rims vehicle for reckless fun.

To the accompaniment of metronomic drum machine and the synthesised field capture of echoing, disinfected halls, Mr and Ms Segall prowl late-night institutions with wonky rhythms, bleeping equipment and frenzied, machine-gunned commands. Playing both good and bad cop, Denée is sultry and dangerous and it frequently tips her over the edge into retro sleaze, programmed compressions venting steam and buzzed-out synth noise. Not to be outdone, Ty unleashes filthy crunches of guitar sludge in response, his death-growl the counterfoil to her aspirated melodrama. Crazy tempos churn though New Wave beats and rattle-snake drums, mega bass hammer-blows distorted into obliterating the EQ, disembodied crashes and FX bending the realm of sanity and adding to the atmosphere of sleep-deprived disorientation.

Pick of the bunch, the paranoid “Bubble” and its ultrasound synths are next-level cool, Ty riding a choppy, metal-hinged chug, Denée irresistibly disinterested as she whispers intimately, her haunting repeats in the stripped-back “Under” an intangible dream sequence as the track later contorts into sexy, machine-tooled consciousness. Organic yet electrified, Surgery Channel picks apart the uneasy relationship between man and machine and exploits it, aptly, both to interrogate the military-industrial complex and for pure carnal pleasure.

Best track: “Bubble”

~Surgery Channel is released January 23rd 2023 via In The Red.~