Although many towns claim pollutants in the water as the cause of local eccentricities, Austin’s resident heirs to the Butthole Surfers’ weird-rock crown say it’s actually the pollen that keeps the city’s music scene so, um, vibrant. Ragweed and sagebrush or not, it’s unlikely that Ed Hall’s dense, theatrical rock concrète could have manifested itself anywhere else.
With Gary Chester’s riffy distorto-guitar collapsing over Larry Strub’s wobbly bass and Kevin Whitley’s semi- sturdy drumming, both Albert and Love Poke Here reveal a rock band grappling with the tenets of noise, although the squalling psychosis of Albert‘s bagpipe-driven “Cracked” and Love Poke Here‘s funkily assaultive “Gilbert” show the trio ill at ease simply making amusing head-cleaning music. The humorous lyrics on such topics as literature and dates are a lot more intellectually diverting than the inflamed (but not explosive) music. However, by the time Ed Hall hooked up with Butthole Surfer King Coffey and his Trance Syndicate label to record Gloryhole, something had most definitely transpired. Maybe it was the endless gigging that accompanied the first two albums, maybe it was their star turn in Slacker, maybe it was being able to record in Butch Vig’s Smart Studios in Wisconsin. In any case, Gloryhole (with a memorable cartoon cover) is a magnificently pummeling album. The swirling mass of sound conjured up by Chester, Strub and new drummer Lyman Hardy is truly a beast to behold: check scary tracks like the instrumental “Bernie Sticky” and the artistic thud of “Roger Mexico.”
Holding steady on Motherscratcher, Ed Hall made another stunning showing on La La Land, which was not so much a change in direction (how many different places can you go with three apeshit guys playing extraordinarily noisy punk rock?) but a further solidification of the sound. Not for the meek, to be sure, Ed Hall manages to add make those airborne irritants seem just a little more sinister.