|Stevie Floyd and Ashley Spungin. Photo by Mary Spiro|
My astrological sign happens to be Taurus. It is also the astrological sign of the two members of the band Taurus: guitarist Stevie Floyd and drummer Ashley Spungin. Not that it means anything really, it just is what it is. I don’t really put much stock in astrology; it’s mostly a bunch of bull (pun intended) and should only be viewed as entertainment.
Sun signs aside, last Saturday, my husband (still getting used to saying that) and I made the annoyingly long trek to Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia to see Taurus. We were primarily there to see Agalloch, of course (more on that in another blog post), but I was curious about Taurus. I am always curious about two-piece bands. How do they make it sound like enough is going on for it to be anything?
Anyway, there are at least three bands out there called Taurus so it took a while to find the right one. Taurus has only been together a few months, but you may know guitarist Stevie Floyd from her work in another two-piece outfit called Dark Castle. There are many elements of Dark Castle in Taurus, only now the components are shaken down, concentrated and stuffed into a smoking pipe.
|Stevie Floyd of Taurus. Photo by Mary Spiro.|
Prior to the show, I had a chance to chat with the Aesop Dekker the drummer for Agalloch. He remarked how much fun they’d been having touring with Taurus and that I should find their set “terrifying.” The use of the word terrifying was not far off.
I knew Taurus would be something that had to be experienced live. I had listened to their recording on Bandcamp and found it somewhat confusing. What was going on here?
Once the band took the stage, I knew that any recording of this group was going to be a weak facsimile of the living, breathing entity that is a live Taurus performance. From the moment they started, I pretty much could not take my eyes off of them, especially Stevie, whose vocals emanated from some place deep inside of her, like a restless spirit trying desperately to strip off the last bloodied membranes of its mortal coil. Ashley’s relentless and unforgiving beats propelled the riffs unfurling from Stevie’s guitar into deadly streamers of doom that spiral down around you and encase you entirely. As they played, a strange film showing images of bleeding sliced pomegranates and exotic characters performing ritualistic actions flickered on the screen behind them.
Now all the music I had heard on the Bandcamp site made sense. The duo executed the recording note for note, beat for beat, including sampled sound clips between each passage. I made sure I picked up a copy of their hand-made EP before I left the club so that I would have something by which to refresh this sensation.
But I must emphasize: Taurus must be experienced live. Listening to the EP in isolation of the context of a performance might leave you feeling flat. Like listening to the soundtrack to a favorite Broadway musical, you will hear the notes and words but you don’t really get the full effect until you see the costumes, watch the movement of the actors and feel the drums beating against your chest.
Taurus definitely is not for everyone. But if you listen with open ears and an open mind to their experimental, doomy, sludgey riffs, you may be transported, body and soul, to another dimension without (or with, if you prefer) the use of chemical enhancements. I encourage you to watch a live Taurus performance. You may not love it; but you won’t avoid being affected by it.
With the understanding that the recording pales in comparison to the live performance, you can hear the EP Life by Taurus below.
Dragged Into Sunlight evolved from our shared vision and bitter outlook. One expression of this is putting aside our individuality in a bid to further a holistic approach to our sound. There are no personal agendas, we stare from the inside out with one face, vision and ethic. Dragged Into Sunlight continues to evolve and is very much a beast of its own creation now.
What would you say are the lyrical themes of the songs?
In summary, our themes encompass those emotives you’d otherwise repress. Each track carries a new barrage of awkward and unsettling negativity.
There are no political or religious themes to Dragged Into Sunlight. We stand alone, and that is a position very much reflected throughout the words, blending obscurity with disgust and isolation. Twisting, turning, meandering, a downward spiral into self-destruction.
How did you develop your performance style? (That is, why do you perform with your backs to the audience, conceal your identities, and what are you trying to convey with that?)
Our performance ‘style’ continues to develop, however, our initial venture was almost pre-determined. We’re anti-social individuals and our approach is of an anti-social nature.
Beyond concealing identities, we present a blank canvas for our listeners, it really doesn’t matter who we are. Dragged Into Sunlight is a growing collective of like minded individuals sharing a similar outlook towards everything. We aspire towards new levels of extreme, our personal identities are completely separate to the identity which Dragged Into Sunlight holds as a collective manifesto.
What has been your most memorable live performance so far and why?
Every performance is an honour for us and we view each as a separate highlight. We’ve experienced some killer shows.
For some of us, Dragged Into Sunlight is a final endeavour, so every moment is appreciated. For the most part, however, we hope that we make our next performance and that the sheer weight of our tone tears flesh from bone.
What type of music do you like to listen to, and which groups/musicians would you name as inspiration for your sound?
Our tastes are diverse and vast. Incantation, Bossk, Lazarus Blackstar, Rwake, Deathspell Omega and Austere recently. Dragged Into Sunlight draws on elements of the latter as a sold foundation. Our inspiration is very much a natural creation, spurred from months, if not years, of frustrated murderous intent. Imagine each micro-social interaction stuffed into one massive wrecking ball. Every time someone pissed you off and you wanted to tear their jaw off, concealed, building and ready to burst at any moment.
We’ll have shirts and rolling trays. Maybe some records.
Anything else you think people ought to know about DIS?
There has not been a new Godflesh recording since 2001, and in 2002, the band parted ways. The two original members, Justin Broadrick (vocals, guitars) and G.C. Green (bass), along with Ted Parsons (the occasional human drummer since 1996) reunited in late 2009 to begin playing some festivals and short tours. There have been rumors of new material. but nothing yet. They do have several free mp3s available for download from their lovingly maintained since 1995 website, aptly named Crumbling Flesh. Everything you ever wanted to know about Godflesh, and then some, can be found there.
Presently on tour with The Melvins, Unsane is credited as being one of the pioneers of noise rock, infusing elements of punk, hardcore and even rock-a-billy and blues into their songs. The unrelenting backbeat, in your face vocals, and often times twangy and distorted guitar riffs will set them apart from most acts at MDF X. No corpse paint and spiked gauntlets here.
Unsane swaggers through each song with impressive violence and grace. Their sound has barely changed over time. They have maintained their brutal punkish roots for nearly 25 years, unbowed to the trends in music around them. This is a good thing. They are like a rough roll in the hay* with a familiar lover, you know exactly what to expect, but you won’t be bored and you’ll leave thoroughly satisfied.
*that is, fuck 🙂
Here’s something brand new from Unsane….
And something from their first self-title recording….