[sic] Magazine

Blank Square – Animal I

Usually made of brass, the saxophone – thanks to its reedy mouthpiece – is, of course, actually a woodwind instrument and, arguably, the most versatile of them all. Best known for smoky jazz accompaniment, its braying parp is often smoothed out for funk jams, lounge grooves, as well as for FM pop and rock too. Think sax, though, and you don’t generally think punk. When it is included in such abrasive structures, however, it often has the transformative effect of turning punk into art-punk and Blank Square’s weirdo debut, Animal I, is no different in this regard.

The four San Francisco residents thus present an austere and brutalist mix in line with the most dangerous and unhinged ends of the In The Red and Castle Face repertoires. Comprising twelve two-to-three minute rippers, Animal I has the sharpest of elbows and an even sharper tongue, its rhythm section sometimes taken on a wander by the sax, sometimes on into full-on free-form too, but Blank Square manage to remain a proper punk proposition throughout.

Wave after wave of sax duly lands like an ocean of well-manicured fists, winding up certain tracks bridges so aggressive choruses land with almost hardcore intensity. This has the consequence of splitting the listen into blasts of delirious sax-punk with a strong early 80s DIY bent and mile-a-minute, saxified ska scrawlings. Subtleties such as ghostly backing vocals and guitars that wriggle like a worm on a hook then lead parts of the listen down no-wave cul-de-sacs, trashy chops even introducing an edge of psychobilly to the madcap proceedings too. Hold your breath. Dive in deep, with no certainty you’ll ever resurface.

~Animal I is released February 24th 2017 via Castle Face.~