Featuring an amazing artwork from Caroline Harrison (who has worked with Yautja, Sunn O, Portrayal of Guilt, Ken Mode) and mastered by Greg Obis at Chicago Mastering Service, “Pastel//Anguish” by gritty noise rock infused post hardcore band ABANDONCY comes out February 25th, and today we’re thrilled to give you an early stream of the full thing, along with the band’s in-depth commentary for each of the new songs below!
ABANDONCY‘s previous release “Hollow//Living” was released through Zegema Beach Records and The Ghost is Clear Records and received press in Bandcamp’s New & Notable, Overblown UK, Destroy//Exist, as well as a mention on Rollingstone.com as one of Rick Carp’s Staff Picks Best of 2020.
“Pastel//Anguish” leaves the listeners just a few moments catch their breath and arrives sharp as a knife’s edge, despite its slowly crawling, alluring parts that broad the horizons of their niche to tremendous effect.
Damian— Linc came up with the title I believe. The guitar bits are from listening to a ton of Orville Peck, Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs: Ohia., and trying to harness that twang and use powerchords, which is just the first two guitar parts. Everything after that I wrote at practice in response to Linc and Morg.
The lyrics are political and anti-fascist in bent, drawing on being at KC’s George Floyd and other protests, covid pandemic, January 6th coup attempt, and the deflationary or other self-deceptive tactics we employee to cope with or to avoid responsibility for failing to adequately address the rise of fascist and authoritarian ideologies in the US and the structures and mechanisms that deny true equity or any semblance of true equality.
On a lighter note, your local public library rules and will have accessible copies of Timothy Snyder, Jason Stanley, Ruth Ben-Ghait, Toni Morrison, etc. – if ya got an hour to doom scroll and feel horrible, ya got an hour to support a radically oppositional institution and to learn about our current socio-political context and feel horrible.
Morgan— It’s still a shock to me when I recall flash-bangs, tear gas, police using public buses to move themselves like ‘troops’ around Kansas City, shields, batons, kettling, grabbing people off the sidewalk. Well, it’s a shock but not a surprise.
A lot of the George Floyd protests in KC took place near “The Plaza”, the first-ever planned outdoor mall. It was designed by J.C. Nichols, a man who used restrictive covenants to bar minorities from his properties and, in general, left a huge legacy of structural segregation and redlining in KC and the U.S. as a whole. The dude kind of wrote that playbook. The fountain there still has his name.
One thing continually crops up in my memory from this time. A line of police splintered my group away from the “approved” protest area at Mill Creek Park (making us “illegitimate”) and continually blocked any routes back, forcing us to go in a wider and wider circle. When I later plotted the route we were forced to take it was 6 1/2 miles. They had multiple cars and bodies and weapons at every adjacent intersection to the “The Plaza” – the outdoor mall. We were being followed by helicopter and being pushed along from behind. It’s a mall. The fact that police forced us to circumnavigate a shining jewel of white supremacy and “protected it” is almost too on the nose. When you compare the state’s immediate response and show of force to the George Floyd protests with the immediate (lack of) response to the Jan. 6 coup attempt, well…
Buuuuut: Linc’s bird squeals on this track are maybe my favorite thing on the record. I’m always advocating for them to do more of it. They don’t need a mic live for it either, it’s so loud. Didn’t the Jeromes Dream person used to do this?
Damian— Morg titled this. This was the last song we wrote, finished it up doing recording, and it’s the first time I’ve ever written and recorded vocals without testing them at practice. The lyrics were written in fragments or from poem sketches. Some are just interesting imagery, some are obtuse references to but ideally people can find what they want or need in them. The Dust Bowl and Rust Belt imagery is, for me, about the tension between the complex resilience, literally or narratively, that arose from those events and the complex and problematic weaponization of the narratives against those in need or in those positions. I also reference Heidegger, Foucault, and some other stuff I was working on at the time.
Morgan— First single from the record that we released back on January 25th. Some of my more intricate drum parts on this record are on this one, but also some of the most simple haha. I set up a multi-percussion set up for the auxiliary perc parts at 0:32–lots of little objects.
Title is Adventure Time. Tiny Manticore: “I am the true coward: hiding from sincere expressions… My new prison is shame. My new prison is shame!” I thought it really hit on the way the words speak to the continuing, worsening hell we find ourselves in and our (at least my own) feelings of shame about feeling unable to effect positive change. Having feelings about feelings is cool.
Morgan— Gosh this one’s so dynamic on the structure scale. Our most varied song so far? Maybe, maybe not. Did lots of fun recording stuff on this one with room mics, etc to match and accentuate the shape. Drum sound at 2:37 is partially an old landline telephone receiver rewired to be a microphone and thrown a few feet in front of the kit.
Re: title. I was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome) several years ago and “new exhaustion” was part of the diagnostic criteria. Sudden onset but long lasting (6 months at least) and pervasive. I manage it well but it can be entirely debilitating for many. It fit with Dame’s lyrical content well.
Lincoln—We wanted a song that had more space. Longer phrasing, more deliberate pacing. Each part exists more or less independently, each part preceding falling into the next, until it abruptly ends, in contrast to the opening part.
Damian— I think Morg titled this. I only had the first half of the first riff when we started writing this and slowly we jammed/improvised out the whole thing (or at least I did, haha). The lyrics are from various drafts and disjointed in places, but a through-line is the forced awareness of how fragile life is for others and oneself. The last lyric is drawn from Oxbow’s “Cold & Well-Lit Place”. Beside that title being more interesting than Hemingway’s, Eugene Robinson’s lyrics in that song (as well as ‘Ecce Homo’) are infectious and palpable and frequently pop into my head. So I tried to keep the general form and add my own variation on the content, the ole artist homage maybe, I don’t know. It’s by no means clever, original, or as good but it worked.
Morgan— No this one is our most varied song haha. In the middle section there’s some cello I performed sampled all to hell (maybe less drastically than I remember) and layered in there. Linc double tracked a bass melody so the different versions snake into and out of and around each other. There’s a recurring drum motif of up-down-up up-down-up that gets transformed in a hellish way by the time it recurs at the end of the track.
Lincoln— Bloatflies are from the Fallout franchise. They’re gigantic, irradiated horseflies that, like ordinary ones, fly around harassing you, attempting to leech blood for nourishment.
Damian— Morg, Linc, or both named this one. This is the oldest song we have on the album – we started writing it before recording “Hollow//Living,” when we had two guitarists. This thing took a lot of forms. I like that this song gives all of us space to explore and lead, such as Linc’s crazy bass part – I just follow them. Honestly that middle bit is probably my 2nd favorite bit live because I can’t see without my glasses on and so Linc, Morg, and I have to coalesce into the same vibe to nail this part. I reference Nietzsche obtusely, in part because the line needed to fit a certain syllable structure. The other part is avoiding generic, problematic, Nietzsche references which tend to miss Nietzsche’s point – (sorry Orchid, I am Nietzsche now (re: joking)). The imagery of Pilate is drawn from Harvey Milk’s “The Anvil Will Fall.”
Magenta High Noon
Damian— Abandoncy Goes Pop: having a kind of chorus and the title is a lyric. “Magenta high noon” and that stanza was a draft for a scraped version of ‘Bloatfly,’ but I hung on to the stanza because the imagery is surreal and thematically touches on other lyrics. I was a pallbearer and KC has pristine Missouri clay-dirt, great for growing nothing and great for burying something. The loop is George Orwell and a guitar riff and probably some other stuff – it doesn’t bear on the lyrics.
Morgan— Dame opened a beer can during pre-roll before a vocal take and we wanted to keep it. Kind of fun but I feel like it ironically hides a deeper darkness in a Keith Buckley kind of way. God, listen to me ugh. This is maybe the most succinct song we’ve written structure-wise but it gets in your face and out of the way and I like that about it. The ending really lets you sit with the moment in juxtaposition to that. As far as drums go I remember thinking of Untitled-era The Armed but groovier.
Morgan— We recorded this one live, with some overdubs. Quite a few guitar layers. Very open structurally. Do you like Phish? Just kidding, neither do we.
Damian— Still hilarious to me that the title track is an instrumental song. The guitar appeared after listening to Talk Talk’s “Laughing Stock” and “The Party’s Over” and Shipping News, a lot. This song is definitely the most improvised and I genuinely don’t know how we pulled off a recording of it – super fun to play though.
Lincoln— Pastels are soft and gentle. They’re not loud or demanding of attention. Anguish is an all-encompassing pain. Not easily buried, not easily forgotten. Pastel anguish is softer, easier to swallow. Because it has to be.
I have your disease in me
Damian— The title is a Blue Velvet reference. When Morgan had me watch it, I immediately wanted to use the reference as a title, understandably Morgan was opposed, but I knew it’d work well with the lyrical themes. These lyrics are the culmination of lyrical themes and events in my life: cousin died, aunt got cancer, dad got cancer, mom got covid during one of the first surges in KC, grandfather’s health worsened. The ending is a choose your own bad time for interpreting it.
Morgan— I had Dame watch Blue Velvet with me and I think the line resonated with him in a very deep way with everything he was experiencing at the time re: family & health. Obviously a deeply different context than in the film. I think the song speaks to a pretty deep alienation of the self: how one’s body can be “conspiring” against them, how your family & their ills can insinuate themselves into your person before you can develop an awareness of it, the fear of hidden, inherited evils (disease or otherwise) that could be lurking in you that you aren’t aware of.
As far as recording and engineering goes, there are some things I did to accentuate a lot of this. After Dame was done with vocals in the final section I kept recording and slammed the gain all the way up so it would catch the smallest mouth sounds (spittle, etc) and purposely let it clip like all hell. That’s what those disgusting sounds are. At the end I also set a noise gate right where a sound source (distorted cello? Can’t remember) was at level-wise, so that it would cut in and out and continually sputter against itself just based on the sound’s own dynamics.
I think this song ties a lot of the themes throughout the record together and deepens them without being overly direct about it. I’m glad it has the breadth it does to give that room to blossom.
ABANDONCY previous press:
Rolling Stone – Best Music of 2020—Staff Picks (Rick Carp—December 21st, 2020)
Bandcamp (New & Notable) – “The Kansas City outfit push a face-melting merger of screamo, post-hardcore, sludge metal, and avant-garde rock.” (Hollow//Living—August 26th, 2020)
Overblown UK – “Those guys certainly know what they’re doing, with a wide range of musical inspirations they managed to create an interesting modern take on the rather stale post-hardcore genre.” (Review: Hollow//Living—September 26th, 2020)
Fuzzy Sun – “Do you have problems with your inner energy? Finding it difficult to get through the day? Do you find it hard to concentrate? Then this trio from Kansas City will help you with some brutal noiserock.” (Hollow//Living—September 25th, 2020)
Hanging Hex – “The first few tracks definitely bring a vibe where they’re embracing their Midwest roots with loose and angular indie rock, but mixed with some of the punk energy of groups like Hot Snakes colliding with some screamy post-hardcore chaos akin to what Level-Plane Records was wholesaling us in the early aughts.” (Hollow//Living—August 25th, 2020)
Overblown UK – “Abandoncy are bloody savage. Their approach is a barrage of angular, distorted guitars, throat-ripping vocals and, suitably, reckless abandon. Next Friday, the 21st of August, they release their stellar and furious debut album Hollow//Living. Sitting somewhere between Shellac and Fugazi, the record is a nine-song explosion that only lets its foot off the pedal to build to ever higher detonations of fury.” (Hollow//Living premiere—August 14th, 2020)
Captured Howls – “…the feeling of the whole song is like a churning pit, and the cacophonous melodies, abrasive performances, and all-around invigorating energy feed into the orchestrated chaos.” (You’re All of America to Me—July 31st,2020)
American Pancake – “My first introduction to these guys… feels incredibly feral, big heavy, throat destroying, hair curling full throttle metal punches and I do mean punches. …There are big guitar assaults, there are stops and starts so you can feel the massive downbeats and upswings and the spaces that hang in the air however so briefly.” (Nashville Hot—July 16th, 2020)
Overblown UK – “It is a short slice of noise rock fury. Throughout the track is the fascinating angularity of post-rock and some unnerving lyrics… You up for it?” (Nashville Hot—July 13th, 2020)
Faeton Music Blog – “I really dig its bestial anger. It’s noisy, heavy, melodic, and fast.” (Nashville Hot—July 10th, 2020)
Destroy//Exist – “The album’s first single and opening cut is a fervent noise rock track which brings the band’s angular songwriting style and the spikiness of their execution in full view, placing its timeless punk rock energy alongside a more contemporary post hardcore sensibility.” (Nashville Hot—July 10th, 2020)
Tome To The Weather Machine – “Abandoncy play riffs like they don’t want to live… An excellent bridge marks the song’s atmospheric middle passage where ragged vocals meet in the air with ambient synths before crashing back to earth as riff after pummeling riff remind us that we aren’t meant to escape these bodies.” (Nashville Hot—July 9th, 2020)
Fuzzy Sun – “These… heavy tracks range between noiserock, hardcore and screamo and need to be checked out.” (Meditations in Affinity: Solicitude—March 14, 2020)
Dead Air At the Pulpit -“Abandoncy offer(s) up… tense and discordant sounding post hardcore, punk, and noise rock. Overall… an awesome listen and definitely should not be missed. Highly recommended!” (2019 Demo—Dec. 17th, 2019)