New Music from Anthesis

Category: music 312
Matt Carter

Part sound experiment, part creative release, Compressed Meat stands alone in sound, structure and concept.

Compressed Meat. Cover photo: Mike Erb

Anthesis closed off 2016 with the release of Compressed Meat, a ferocious 32 track EP that clocks in at just under 10 minutes. What began as a way to cope with frustrations in the recording studio grew to become one of the most oddly inspiring New Brunswick releases in recent memory. Part sound experiment, part creative release, Compressed Meat stands alone in sound, structure and concept.

“This EP was recorded in the same session as our LP that’s yet to be released,” said Anthesis’ guitarist and recording engineer Scott Miller. “In total, we did 46 songs during this recording period – 32 of them for this Compressed Meat EP and three more for our Nirvana Covers Vol. 2 EP.”

It’s been nearly seven years since the Quispamsis trio have released more than a handful of tracks at any one time. Since 2010’s Surface and The Sky, the band’s only full length recording, Anthesis’ existence has been limited to releasing split EPs with fellow grind acts Cavern, The Great Sabatini and GREBER, a handful of covers and the occasional live performance. Although still considered an EP in the eyes of the group, the number of tracks on Compressed Meat amount to nearly double the group’s previous discography in its entirety with many tracks ranging between three to seven seconds.

“This started was as a stress reliever during drum tracking,” said Miller. “Whenever we had a part that was tough to nail down and it got to the point of frustration, we’d track some stuff for this EP. The idea was that it would all be improvised on the spot with zero planning. So I’d hit record and Andrew would play drums and scream his guts out completely improvising on the spot. Whatever happened, we kept it. No redos, no editing. We ended up with 31 tracks like this throughout the drum tracking for our LP.”

The track Red Dog = Smash Brains was the only track created after the fact by copying and pasting together drum sections from other songs and then reversing or pitch shifting tracks. At 1 minute, 54 seconds, it’s also the longest track on the EP and features guest vocals by Deep Fryer’s Mike Erb.

“That song is the odd ball of the EP, which seems ridiculous considering how weird the entire EP is,” said Miller.

Though rooted in drummer Andrew Martin’s percussive frustration, Miller and bassist Scott Lilly kept the improvisational spirit of the session alive when creating their respective accompaniment.

“I think I can see the potential for improvisation in this style of music more now than I could before. It feels amazing to not know what’s going to happen until it’s happening.”

“I’d listen to the tracks a few times and then record something, again improvised in a single take,” said Miller. “Same for the bass after that. There were no click tracks or count ins. It was literally done by looking at the audio files for the drums on the computer monitors and trying to come in on time with the drum hits. The vocals were then re-recorded exactly like the original improvised vocals because we didn’t have a vocal mic set up while drum tracking, they were only captured through the drum mics. A few songs are actually still the original vocals through the drum mics because they were impossible to reproduce.”

Compressed Meat stands in direct contrast to much of the heavy music being produced today, especially on the East Coast and even more so among New Brunswick’s aggressive music makers. In a genre sonically shaped by software composition, drum triggers and highly complex arrangements, a collection of grindcore improvisations is a bit of a rarity.

“This was definitely a great creative exercise,” said Miller. “I think I can see the potential for improvisation in this style of music more now than I could before. It feels amazing to not know what’s going to happen until it’s happening. I listen to quite a bit of jazz and the improv aspect of it is something that I’ve always respected and have been intrigued by. Someone like Keith Jarrett, who can play entire solo concerts 100% improvised just blows me away.”

“This whole process was completely new to us,” he added. “Most of this style of music is very planned out, and we’re no different. I think the contrast of the extremely structured songs of our LP and zero structure songs of this EP is very liberating. I think it shows that there’s an odd potential for something new and creative by stepping out of your comfort zone or what’s expected.  I can see us doing another EP like this. It’s very liberating.”

Anthesis’ Compressed Meat EP is available for download via Bandcamp for $2. Well worth every penny.

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