Exposé Online banner

Usssy — Usssy
(Tenzenmen 181tzm, 2013/2016, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-09-05

Usssy Cover art

As the music industry has changed over the last few years, some of the functions previously performed by record labels, such as paying advances for studio time, serving singles to radio, and providing superstars with cocaine, have become more or less obsolete for all but the biggest of pop acts on the handful of remaining major labels. What remains for labels outside that little club to do is partly a matter of curation, a form of quality control, being trusted (or not) filters for artists who fit the label’s style or level of professionalism. With millions of recording artists all over the world, we all need someone to point us in the right direction now and then. So when a new artist comes out on Moonjune or Cuneiform or another label we trust, we can be reasonably certain that certain criteria will be met. Tenzenmen has a very eclectic roster from a stylistic standpoint, but there is an esthetic at work, so when they present something, it’s worth checking out. Usssy is (or was) a Russian duo active from 2009 to 2013, and with this collection, Tenzenmen presents two tracks each from six releases, plus one live track from another. On the earliest material, from 2009, they thrash out a noisy take on post punk, with snarling vocals, dissonant guitars, and barely reigned-in chaos. “Cock-Fight,” from 2010’s Oko, starts out with wailing slide guitar and free-form pounding drums, then moves through a set of crazy riffs and rhythmic patterns that are heavily distorted but tightly choreographed. By 2011, with Ud, we start to hear some Middle Eastern influences, where the thrashing noise is topped by catchy melodies that sound vaguely Turkish. The 2012 live track shows this trend taken further, with an acoustic stringed instrument (I‘m not going to try to identify it beyond saying it has metal strings) backed by hand percussion. For Karpet Birch (2012), the microtonal nature of the melodies comes more to the fore, and instrumentation is expanded to include keyboards and synthesizers, resembling a twisted modern version of early-70s Turkish psychedelia — Moğollar remixed by Merzbow, maybe. Punk rockers who grew up listening to The Devil’s Anvil reinterpret the music of their youth in epic fashion. The later releases are well worth investigating, and this compilation performed its function admirably: Turning me on to an artist I’d never heard of, and pointing me to the parts of their catalog I’ll like best. Many thanks, Tenzenmen!


Filed under: Archives, 2016 releases, 2013 recordings

Related artist(s): Usssy, Pavel Eremeev (Holy Palms)

More info
http://tenzenmen.bandcamp.com/album/usssy

Latest news

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

White Willow - Ignis Fatuus – This one was worth the wait! This new band from Norway plays a rich blend of folk and symphonic rock, sprinkled with a generous helping of classical influence. Fronted by the gorgeous female voice of...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues