[sic] Magazine

Hausu – Total

Many sounds belong most prominently to a specific time and place. Hausu hail from Portland and a casual listen to their killer debut Total immediately confirms their place within the brackets of the Pacific Northwest’s mid-80s-to-early-90s noise-cum-post-hardcore framework. Their wide blend of general alt-rock themes and pained slacking however is more than sufficiently appealing to snare those that didn’t catch the movement first time around, as well as to catch at the heartstrings of those that did.

Take the opener, “Chrysanthemum”, as well as its sonic sister “Gardenia” for example, the tracks’ latter-day Cloud Nothings kick given a serene finish by melodic guitar work and a Robert Smith -esque vocal. Yet, there always was something magnetic about the angry emotion of the period though and Hausu haven’t forgotten its power, feeding – amongst others – the midsection of the crunching noise-rocker “Vasari Joust” through a screamo filter. Total really comes into own however when the reins properly come off, such as during the heavy “1991-2091”, a track which does its damnedest to pit the likes of Fugazi off against the ever-impressive loud-quiet-loud hardcore of, say, Slint .

There’s maybe a slight complaint that the production is too clean when a few more edges may have caused Total to cut even more deeply, yet the tense restraint of the uneasy “Tetsuo” does manage to threaten more than it comforts all the same. Either way, there’s a strong close to compensate, “John Codeine” pulling out all the stops with an onslaught of drums and guitar and “Kool Off” squeezing in some proto-grunge late in the day, its lurch and abrasion on the verge of crystallising into essential antisocial statements like “Negative Creep”.

Nevertheless, Total isn’t quite a modern-day classic, but if it were a rediscovered document from the original advent of such sounds then you’d certainly expect it to feature as a footnote at least in the annals of the likes of Hüsker Dü and Dinosaur Jr.

Advised downloads: “Chrysanthemum” and “1991-2091”

~Total gets its UK release the 28th October 2013 on Hardly Art .~