Honing their craft on two European tours and playing support to Nasum, Dillinger Escape Plan and Baroness, Coilguns “Commuters” release is a lesson to any artist who painstakingly manipulates their productions to reach aural perfection. Each song was recorded live in one take, and the result is a gloriously feral mix of organic tunes that authentically allow the listener access to the territory they create. Featuring members of progressive metal band The Ocean, Coilguns are essentially Jona Nido on guitar, Luc Hess on drums and Louis Jucker on vocals. Several musicians were invited to contribute to a number of the tracks however, including Keijo Niinima of Nasum and Rotten Sounds on ‘Minkowski Manhattan Distance’. Apart from the vocals, no edits or overdubs were used to generate these pieces, and, according to the press release, up to five guitars may feature at any one time.
With the production of the album in context, the opening ‘Commuters Part 1 and 2’ bristles with energy and controlled chaos. The vocals are hostile and frantic and the mix is equally as belligerent. ‘Part 2’ slows the pace and mood and extends the space within the song but is no less menacing and untamed for that space. Over its eleven minute duration ‘Commuters Part 2’ builds in intensity and ferocity, the vocals becoming increasingly frenzied and abrasive.
‘Hypnograms’ and ‘Machines of Sleep’ incorporate fascinating chord progressions around brutal riffs and a variety of vocal styles to create bewildering yet coherent arrangements. ‘Plug-In Citizens’ and ‘Submarine Warfare Anthem’ are fierce but remain technically complex and dense. Over six minutes, and using that space to extend its themes, ‘Minkowski Manhattan Distance’ features passages of desolate guitar and percussion, uncultivated vocals and the raw, live production values to create an atmosphere of suspicion and disquiet.
‘Blunderbuss Committee’ is a lumbering dinosaur of guitar which contrasts starkly with ’21 Almonds a Day’ and ‘Flippists/Privateers’, both chaotic mixtures of guitar and drums being abused yet held in check with intelligent chord structures. Another lengthier piece ‘Earthians’ closes “Commuters” and again uses the available space to allow instrumental passages to build and evolve and lend the release, as a whole, a number of textures and depths. The elongated feedback that closes the album can almost be considered to be a mission statement for unconventional and honest music making processes.
The immediacy of the production and recording of “Commuters” lends it an air of reliability that flies bravely in the face of many modern recording techniques. There is certainly an essence of “what you see is what you get” with this release, which would indicate that, in a live context, Coilguns would be worthy of attention and respect.