Review Summary: A heartbreaking musique concrete look into the collapse of love.
One of the internet's defining features, for better or worse, is that the degree of user anonymity is set largely at what the individual allows. Some entirely waive their secrecy through the publishing of names, locations and even photographs; others use their clandestine nature to produce art as detached from persona as possible. With Salamander Blues - Cervix, one isn't even sure if they inserted the artist and title in the right fields. The only clues we have to their identity are a possibility erroneous location (Middelburg, VA) and a description: 'big kong'. Detachment is intrinsic to the nature of Cervix
(which this shall be henceforth referred to) as the apparent themes of love, sex and breakup are explored in agonisingly bleak detail.
Underpinned by the running of water, Cervix
opens with a rendition of Tarquin N. L'amor's 'The Nobbing In The Briar Patch', a fin de siècle
poem known among literary circles for its sexual, passionate tone controversial to its contemporaries. Salamander Blues immediately sets to work on the cold, uncomfortable atmosphere however; there are notes of Lil Ugly Mane's 'Collapse and Appear' as an emotionless machine-like reading of 'The Nobbing…' is delivered line-by-line, distancing the couple's first sexual congress into nothing more than a cold biological act. For Salamander Blues, love is a disgusting thing.
As the piece continues, sparse spoken word makes way for beautiful lo-fi melodies, which themselves yield to aggressive thumping bass akin to Underworld's classic 'Born Slippy'. Such a nod cannot be accidental - it symbolises the period of the relationship as blissful, hedonistic, noise blocking everything else out but them only. However, this cannot last, and once more Salamander Blues utilises a breakneck emotional counterpoint, this time a stand-up comedy routine to usher in the end. As an argument ensues about the appropriateness of the man's act, the noise not only becomes more prominent, but becomes more violent, fracturing their discourse into something aggressive and abrasive.
This could be the end, but Salamander Blues has one final act for the listener. The peculiar last few minutes are a second machine-like reading, this time of 'Ode to the King'. The tale of a kingly monkey initially feels extraneous following the apparent cataclysmic conclusion to the relationship, its vulgarities even ostensibly inappropriate. There is, however, a vital point which must be considered here. The authorship of 'Ode to the King' is traceable back to an anonymous Japanese message board - undoubtedly intended as humour, but without a definite source, Salamander Blues is able to turn this on its head into a stark, self-reflected allegory. The machine-like voice is, as it turns out, SB themselves, having swung their manhood around with abandon, expecting the world to simply bow before them - but now they have nothing, their life empty.
Adjudging such an obviously personal release feels wrong, in a way, but it only feels wrong because of the meticulous nature of the selection and curation of samples and soundbytes that comprise Cervix
. The chance of hearing anything more from Salamander Blues is unlikely, and this reflection can only be speculation on their true intentions. Their anonymity means we'll never know, but it's undoubtedly what makes this such a compelling listen.