The third self-titled LP from Raleigh, North Carolina’s Whatever Brains is less manic than their last, also for the Sorry State label. It’s droning as fuck. I don’t mean that in a negative or positive way — it’s simply that each and every track on this particular release has an underlying vibe than hums along monotonically.
That’s not to say that it’s a monotonous record. I don’t think Whatever Brains could be monotonous if they tried. Take, for example, the closer to side A, “Horse Complex 2,” which is a Boards of Canada song gone awry. It mixes their cinematic drone with the electronic blips of a science fiction theme song — it reminded me of nothing so much as the opening credits to Forbidden Planet while on a fistful of pills.
Then, on side B, you have “Summer Home.” It’s a drunken, wobblingly off-kilter number. The synthetic horns blurt along under angular guitar riffs, circling down a drain. The whole thing just goes ever-deeper into an abyss as the song goes along.
It never really kicks into gear the way I hoped it would. I kept hoping Whatever Brains would really pull something upbeat and crazy to mix things up, but I suppose that would really ruin the aesthetic they have going here. The closest you ever really get is the throbbing bassline that rocks “Bellied Up,” following in from the martialistic drumbeat of “Summer Home.”
Snag it on black vinyl from the Sorry State store. The way that cover combines with the inner sleeve makes for a visual experience that’s just as unsettling and weird as the listen.