"Any and Every"
Excepter's first full-length on Paw Tracks and fourth overall, Debt Dept conjures the haunted, confrontational vocal passages and industrial-psych-dub freak-outs they've (im)perfected over endless hours of performance (some of which is offered via free live streams available on their website). There is a feeling on Debt Dept though that contrasts well to that mode of production. While the parts characteristically deconstruct and sub divide, dissipate and dissolve, the album is more than just a compacted version of their performances; it is an articulated glance at the boundless mystery that is Excepter.
In just over 40 minutes, the New York electronic performance troupe (which counts OM staffer Dan Hougland as a member) present without pretension their ability to thrive on contradiction, often celebrating the dynamics of tonality, texture, and rhythm in the same passage as which they negate these very qualities, challenging the notions which traditionally circumscribe our experience of music. In the compressed time/narrative format of this album, the big payoffs are that much more present, and the paranoid, precarious routes taken to get there become slightly lucid. Hypnotic and intelligent beats slowly piece themselves together from minimal chaos into bona-fide jams, vocal quips shift simultaneously from humorous to sonorous to sinister. Warped synths swim about, recalling Suicide (both the band and the act) -- sustained passages of engaging texture that swiftly change connotation, seemingly demonic one minute, revelatory the next.
Surprise, though: these are very well-crafted "songs," with a profoundly logical unfolding, which, however disturbing, becomes more rewarding through close listening and patience. Quite clearly, Excepter isn't out to win everyone's (or maybe anyone's) hearts or accolades, but to dismiss the project as offhand seems way too easy, and downright absurd when something as beautiful and immediately satisfying as "Walking Through the Night" exists on this earth, a mighty, cascading wall of sound that is simply gripping and unstoppable.
Something like laughing and crying at the same time, Excepter may be challenging to comprehend and will definitely take you by surprise, but in the end the confusion that arises from this conflict may be more satisfying than whatever functional clarity you had expected from your own emotions. After all, this is life, this is art, take a chance. [JW]