GTZ Records, 2015

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


If an almost 13-minute long absurd instrumental jam is one of the more accessible tracks on Shhh!!!!, then this album must be pretty weird. Well, damn it is!

Based out of Austin, TX, Sam Chown is the one-man army behind Shmu, and he plays and records all the music himself.

One component of his music is the drumming. Chown is one-half of the experimental noise-rock band Zorch, and he plays drums for that outfit. So Chown is no stranger to the drums; in fact, he displays quite marvelously on this record just how intimate he is with the drums. The drumming on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Shhh!!!! is like it would be on a metal, punk, or prog album – fierce, fast, and fabulous. This brings us to the aforementioned song (called “Harmonic”) which, at its core, is primarily Chown drumming for close to 13-minutes, showing off his superpowers.

Another component to the sound here is its heavy shoegaze influence. The songs on this album are drenched in layers of guitars to the point that the music and the words just blend into one another and flow like lava.

Now, what Chown does with this music is what can be best described as hellish mayhem. He takes his perfectly recorded songs, chops them into pieces, and then reassembles them like a collage of disparate music bits. Chown goes to town with this quirky approach. Sometimes he will take a piece and slow it down, speed it up, make it stutter, or play it backwards. Sometimes a song – take “Dirty Sanchez” for instance – sounds like so many bits and pieces that it is hard to tell where one track ends and the next one begins! Ultimately, Shhh!!!! is like a bowl of spaghetti.

This album is a self-produced release, and Chown shows how brilliant he is through his process of cutting, pasting, and reassembling, which is done with meticulousness and preciseness. It takes a very high standard of studio wizardry to be able to pull off such an album. On the other hand, Chown doesn’t use his supreme studio virtuosity as an excuse to make mundane songs sound exciting. Even without the “mash up” treatment (which undoubtedly makes this album super cool), the songs by themselves would have made for an absolutely brilliant shoegaze album.

In spite of its plasticky music which seems to have been fabricated in a lab by a total lunatic, Shhh!!!! – like every great album – still connects on an emotional level. Chaos and craziness can never be underestimated.

Rating: A

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