Yellow Eyes and the Sound of Vomit ep

I’ve always held a theory that there’s something in the waters of Lake Erie that sullies the minds of Cleveland’s inhabitants and forces them to regularly engage in talk about all things scatological. They’re not exactly a lesser species of human, just prone to shit-talk any time the opportunity arises. Factorymen’s recent duo of releases, the Shitman LP and the Yellow Eyes and Sound of Vomit EP, certainly plays into that theory, but I can actually say these excrement-laced recordings don’t give off that smell. In fact, judging Factorymen just based on the stat sheet would be a disservice to Steve Peffer, who is better known as the main cog in Clevo’s notorious Homostupids. Though these two records are built upon a foundation of repulsive thud-punk, it’s only the ground floor. Those expecting anything even remotely similar to Homostupids is in for a polarizing trip into Peffer’s aural subconscious.

The more fragmented Shitman finds Peffer dabbling in a sort of forced hypnagogia, combining moody dream states and fluid nightmares and using everything from communications between whales, samples of lounge records one might find in the free box, surreal conversations with himself, and general tooling around with oscillators, broken down synths and crusted drum pads. Roaming back and forth between the two spheres—and all points in between—can make for an uneven ride. “Tommy Telephone” seems out of place as a GodWeenSatan-esque faux-metal headband. The pitched vocals, knuckle-dragging Casio beats and searing riffs plugged in direct don’t exactly match with Shitman’s spooky ebb and flow. The same can be said for “Alleyman,” wherein Peffer proclaims he’ll “spray her with cream,” and “Treblinka (Going Back),” which is an absolutely mental portrait of the artist locking himself in the basement bedroom for an all-night four-track binge. But these moments of instability add to the grotesque aura of Factorymen’s mission.

On Yellow Eyes and the Sound of Vomit, Peffer seems to have refined these collages (if what he does can be refined) into something more profound, something that takes into consideration the entire canvas. Pieces thoughtfully bleed from one to the next and the juxtaposition of harsh power electronics within a kinder, gentler mood. Here, they start to collect all within the same composition, as on “Weekend With My Mother,” which turns dementia disco into ominous drone and then into a quick jaunt past a big band playing the Beatles before disintegrating out-of-bounds. There is genuine beauty among the rubble; hidden deep in the grooves, Peffer knows how to irk out pleasant melodies from his brutish machines. For the most part, though—and especially in the waning minutes of Yellow Eyes—Peffer opts to magnify ugly molasses-paced hardcore and dissect it, not unlike Clockcleaner or the Factums. On “She’s My Mexican Man,” it’s filtered through a busted circuit board and pounded out by his lonesome. This is not social music by any stretch, and the weirdo post-punk rage of closers “Our Little Champion” and “Wake Up Wolffe” hint that Peffer prefers this type of dub shredding to be done looking straight into the mirror and not into a crowd. For the sake of future offerings from Factorymen, let’s hope the guy never gets sane.
Kevin J. Elliott