Review Summary: AIDS Wolf, a French Canadian noise quartet, release an album that is violent, dirty, and really good. Cities of Glass
is not a record well-represented by its title. AIDS Wolf, a notoriously naked and noisy quartet from Canada, have not gone and made an album that is clean, shiny or at all like anything that the image of a glass city conjures up. This is a dirty
collection of songs. It reeks of noise, stinks of distortion and is full of unbecoming screeches. These are things which every member of AIDS Wolf (one singer, two guitarists, one drummer) bases his/her performance around. Cities of Glass grooves like an animal dying in the middle of the road, and doesn’t let up. After 23 minutes, it falls to the ground in a heap of blood, guts, and fur.
It’s a great album is more or less what I mean. Songs like Tied-Up in Paper
are frantic and disturbed, but recall math rock as much as they do hardcore and noise rock. The drums are laid-back and complex and, combined with the abrasiveness of the rest of AIDS Wolf, offer something completely different from punk’s classic simplicity, though AIDS Wolf might consider themselves a punk band at heart. Gnarly Tooth
and So Many Plastic Pearls
combine a repetitive, fast-paced rhythm section (a la Lightning Bolt) with high-pitched 31G-esque guitar shredding and incoherent mumbles from female lead singer Chloe Lum, and then shuffle everything together into one disorganized mess of noise. Points on Cities of Glass get so chaotic that the music begins to become nothing more than a drone. Instruments are impossible to distinguish from each other, with the exception of Yannick Desranleau’s pounding drums. This isn’t the case on the title track though. The song’s initial lack of low end creates a minimalistic feel until midway through the song, at the “chorus”, where everything pours back in. The thick buzzsaw distortion that makes up for AIDS Wolf’s lack of bass makes every song on Cities of Glass sound massive and thick, a departure from their “break-out” album The Lovvers LP
AIDS Wolf are definitely indebted to New York’s no wave movement, as well as the current crop of noise bands all over L.A., Brooklyn and Providence, but that is far from bad company to be in. Cities of Glass has very few sub-par moments, and the record goes by so fast that they are almost insignificant. Lum’s lyrics are impossible to discern, sure, but maybe this is for the best. And even if the tracks tend to be a little similar, after 23 minutes I am far from bored. Actually, by the album’s end, I am closer to listening to the entire thing again than I am to being uninterested. With Cities of Glass, AIDS Wolf have created a powerful, driving noise-rock record that is probably the best thing to come out of this scene all year.