Exposé Online banner

Usssy — Usssy
(Tenzenmen 181tzm, 2013/2016, DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-09-05

Usssy Cover art

As the music industry has changed over the last few years, some of the functions previously performed by record labels, such as paying advances for studio time, serving singles to radio, and providing superstars with cocaine, have become more or less obsolete for all but the biggest of pop acts on the handful of remaining major labels. What remains for labels outside that little club to do is partly a matter of curation, a form of quality control, being trusted (or not) filters for artists who fit the label’s style or level of professionalism. With millions of recording artists all over the world, we all need someone to point us in the right direction now and then. So when a new artist comes out on Moonjune or Cuneiform or another label we trust, we can be reasonably certain that certain criteria will be met. Tenzenmen has a very eclectic roster from a stylistic standpoint, but there is an esthetic at work, so when they present something, it’s worth checking out. Usssy is (or was) a Russian duo active from 2009 to 2013, and with this collection, Tenzenmen presents two tracks each from six releases, plus one live track from another. On the earliest material, from 2009, they thrash out a noisy take on post punk, with snarling vocals, dissonant guitars, and barely reigned-in chaos. “Cock-Fight,” from 2010’s Oko, starts out with wailing slide guitar and free-form pounding drums, then moves through a set of crazy riffs and rhythmic patterns that are heavily distorted but tightly choreographed. By 2011, with Ud, we start to hear some Middle Eastern influences, where the thrashing noise is topped by catchy melodies that sound vaguely Turkish. The 2012 live track shows this trend taken further, with an acoustic stringed instrument (I‘m not going to try to identify it beyond saying it has metal strings) backed by hand percussion. For Karpet Birch (2012), the microtonal nature of the melodies comes more to the fore, and instrumentation is expanded to include keyboards and synthesizers, resembling a twisted modern version of early-70s Turkish psychedelia — Moğollar remixed by Merzbow, maybe. Punk rockers who grew up listening to The Devil’s Anvil reinterpret the music of their youth in epic fashion. The later releases are well worth investigating, and this compilation performed its function admirably: Turning me on to an artist I’d never heard of, and pointing me to the parts of their catalog I’ll like best. Many thanks, Tenzenmen!


Filed under: Archives, 2016 releases, 2013 recordings

Related artist(s): Usssy, Pavel Eremeev (Holy Palms)

More info
http://tenzenmen.bandcamp.com/album/usssy

Latest news

2018-02-18
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

2018-02-15
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

2018-02-14
Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

2018-01-30
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Univeria Zekt - The Unnamables – This is, for all intents and purposes, a Magma album recorded under a different name. The original intent by producer Laurent Thibault was to create an album that would be sort of like an introduction...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues