[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Other labels are content to provide you with an onslaught of new artists to check out, forcing you to beat the wheat out of the chaff. Not so the case with Stars, Dots and the “New” Junk; you are given four acts to peruse with each one taking up an entire side of tape. Here’s the thing, though, these are not just mammoth slabs of existential meanderings. As is the case with everything this label does, the journey to understand just what the hell was going on took me down a serious detour, some 50 to 60 years back as a matter of fact. To gentlemen like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed.
Why this route you ask? Because those old blues records are shot through with the sort of unconventional rhythms and harmonic structures I’m hearing on this compilation. That’s correct, folks, the four groups gathered together on ‘Everything is Repairable, Everything is Broken’ are attempting to write songs. Actual honest-to-god songs. I took it for just artistic license how many breaks are between each section of music -damn right this material is- until it dawned on me that I wasn’t hearing pauses between movements but the endings of individual tracks. Should you own this release, try this out and see what you get. To view what Stunted Growth, Exceptional Children’s Olympics, Elugelab and Wing’d Maet are up to as only long-form pieces will drive you mad… believe me it got pretty tense around here trying to do this.
So what do these sound like? The label describes them as ‘scuzzy’ and that’s a fair estimate, I’d say they’re scoundrels. The dregs lingering about in the bottom of your glass that you know better than to consume but you do anyway because what have you got to lose at this point. This isn’t ambient, nor is it out and out noise; we’re somewhere in between these worlds, a no-mans land riddled with all kinds of surprises. Tread carefully and mind your surroundings, because they’ll change at the drop of a hat. As previously stated, there are only four collectives powering this but you’d be forgiven for assuming it sounded like a lot more.
Again, another connective thread to those gentlemen I’ve listed would be the minimal amount of equipment at their disposal. Maximum dynamics are reached and then breached giddily, whatever is at hand is what gets thrown into the mix. Sometimes you can tell that the sources in question didn’t go voluntarily; forced experimentalism? I’m tempted to call it that. Contrasting elements put into a pressure cooker might be more descriptive angle to come at this from, definitely not for the timid. These tracks are raw, my friends, raw enough to burn through whatever else you’re listening to like acid on bare skin.
It gets the meat right off the bone.