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Aural Pleasure Review

Shmu: 'Discipline/Communication'

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He has no mouth and must whisper. This is the impression one might get from hearing Discipline/Communication, the debut LP from Sam Chown, one half of the eccentric Austin rock duo Zorch. If you’ve heard Zorch, you’re at least slightly acquainted with Shmu, where Chown is drummer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist opposite guitarist and vocalist Zac Traeger. Zorch marries the bombast and melodrama of prog with the do-anything antics of modern indie. As if to create a counter-music, Shmu combines shoegaze, funk, glitch, and acid rock into a catatonic pop. Lead single “House of Stares”is hypnotizing and seamless, the skeleton of funk guitar buried beneath a swirl of Chown’s vocal harmonies. “Directions” finds Chown halfway between Beck and Madlib, leading with an earnest bass groove, letting shards of keys erupt in the song’s sweetest moment. The glitch suite of “&hearts” and “Heads Will Fall” deploy Zorch’s bravado in a mess of jarringly chopped guitar, bass, and drum samples. Meanwhile, the noise rock “Shadowgames” lets the acoustic guitar cut through the mix and the distortion to melt behind Chown’s falsetto choruses. Ultimately, Discipline/Communication finds an experimental rocker breaking away to write calmly and concisely. It’s a quiet storm.

★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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