The Line for the Men’s Room
Savage Quality

Savage Quality has quickly become a label we adore here at Primitive Futures headquarters. As such, each new release by Kevin Failure (of Pink Reason infamy) gets ample playing time. And this latest LP on the label, like most of the catalog so far, takes some time to chew on. Failure calls it “outback noir,” and seeing as the NYC quartet is made up of some former Aussies, they certainly know the meaning of blackened downer vibes. Theirs is a scattered jam of clatter and clang, most songs bloom like a trail of smoke from swap meet incense—those big fuckers that eventually clear a room and compete with zephyrs of dirtweed exhales. “Manifestations of You” begins the slow burn, oozing with glacial guitars and forcing full attention of the grotesque display. If you came for signals, it does rumble along the same caustic chasms of Jandek and the Dead C, but ignore those flashes. Modra sound always in an element designed on the spot. Decisions to move forward only get the lines more tangled and skewed. When The Line for the Men’s Room started, I was half-scared and half-confused about where it was headed. By the time you get to “She’s Too Big,” martial drums have marched through, a siren of unknown origin wails, and you’re wide awake in an enthralled stupor.

On “The Restless Dream” there are Eastern visions, but even those get lodged in false riffs, infinite beats pulse in the background, and Modra ascends to a glorious mess of all the above movements. Similar in perspective to Pink Reason’s bummer blues, this album sits somewhere between that band’s two long-players, Cleaning the Mirror and Shit in the Garden. But I’d much rather imagine Modra being a massive Moody Blues–loving doom metal band, full of teenage waistoids just discovering the power of noisy chaos. Using fidelity as a weapon—or as the spotlight swinging in their dungeon studio—on the second side you begin to see that Modra gets much deeper than just craggy, face-melting experiments. “Her Taste in My Mouth” has narrative, climax, slogans you wish you could understand, and best of all, catharsis through tonal bliss. These guys know their guitars rule and the swirling mass they create is truly magnetic stuff. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. At first you might shudder to think there is some method to the madness, but there is; the beauty is just hiding. You might be caught offguard by the tune that lies beneath “She Came By,” but trying to parse it out of the muck is futile. Sure the vision is ugly; the shades start at gray and descend into a blinding void. But who are you to assess that’s not a place you really want to be, if only for the length of this massive record?
Kevin J. Elliott