Soft Shoulder

It's not uncommon to jam some wax or silicone noise-stoppers into your ear holes while at the club, especially when hearing the Tempe-based, normally short-form punk trio of percussionist John Ryan Nelson, guitarist/effects-pedal fiddler James Fella, and saxophonist/vocalist/sometimes knob-twiddler Ashley Hohm, collectively known as Soft Shoulder. But when listening to their latest effort, you might as well keep those earplugs firmly planted. This disc, which features two extended noise improvisations, isn't unlistenable — it's just freaking loud, with walls of sound imploding like an old, creaky warehouse in the heart of dying industrial America. "Clap and Cough," an 18-minute performance recorded at Modified Arts, envelopes eardrums with grimy sound waves and showcases plenty of feedback-gone-wrong soundscapes. "Slumber Party in a Grime Hut," recorded at a house show, starts off more pensive, with moody droning loops augmented by alto sax shrieks that transition into experimental electronic gunk. If your ears get lost in the audio confusion, find solace in Nelson's grounded percussion, which acts as a focal point and temporary reprieve from the bedlam. Enjoy this challenging recording — at low volumes.


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