Blasting Ears with Experimental Sounds
Mike Mitchell’s talent on the drums is simply undeniable. His live shows are high energy, fast-paced and full volume, keeping the crowd engaged throughout the intricate patterns and tempo switches. For his debut project under the name Blaque Dynamite, those drums are easily the standout highlight, tying Killing Bugs together amid an array of scattered sounds that fill the air behind it.
Experimental doesn’t begin to describe the effects that Mitchell uses in place of consistent melodies. Much of the album lives in a distorted, watery setting, intentionally hard to grab hold of during the times when the percussion isn’t present. It makes for a somewhat exhausting listen-through, although the short song lengths provide necessary variation when one pattern grows weary on the ears.
Blaque Dynamite wastes little time asserting his presence on Killing Bugs, with the powerful drums kicking amidst the noise almost as soon as intro track “Hypegun” gets underway. Vocals are swirled into an afterthought, with garbled phrases directed at a potential lover only slightly discernible.
Blaque Dynamite is Mitchell’s solo venture, but he has plenty of help throughout. Eight other artists earn credits for their contributions, from Ben Hixon’s and Jon Bap’s vocals to bass work by Gax Merl and Matt Ramsey. Not every artist’s fingerprint appears on each song, and when they do come together it’s more of a loud cacophony than a connected jam. “Clapidgea” is simply two minutes of noise, haunting and eerie; “Doasaykeys” is much of the same although more atmospheric.
Sequencing on Killing Bugs is smooth throughout, with many songs seamlessly connecting to each other. Dreamier, more relaxed songs are spaced out to give breaks through the madness. “TDB” is one such example, allowing 85 seconds of breathing room before “Frlly” assaults the ears with crashing guitars and vicious drumming.
Lord Byron is the lone feature listed on the tracklist, lending his talents to the abrasive 27’s. The phrase “I swear I been seeing ghosts” is frequently repeated, mixed into chopped and screwed production with thudding 808’s rather than the organic percussion that fills the rest of the project.
All but three songs run for under three minutes, and the two that last for over six minutes impress mainly through Mitchell’s ability to connect so many themes and moods into one track. “Ayo” opens with screaming guitars, and steadily decreases in aggressiveness with the addition of flutes until even the pounding drums are stripped away, leaving a chill-hop instrumental with a worn, beat-tape feel. On the outro song “Speak Up,” Mitchell dives in and out of the realm of jazz, winding down the noise toward the end of the song and the album to allow the listener a moment to process the intense experience.
Killing Bugs is one of the more ambitious releases to come out this year, hurling the kitchen sink at the listener with only racing drums to tie it together. The few steady grooves are enjoyable, while the overpowering mashes of sound are as exhausting as they are impressive. Strap yourself in tightly before pressing play on this project — and expect to be caught off guard even when you’re already prepared for it.