Formed by members of Long Island punk band RATIONS (introduced on IDIOTEQ back in 2013), new projects RATIONS NOISE and UNKNOWN RIVER DRIVER are revealing their debut split record, an interesting take on to different genres and areas of interest. With some teasers (NoEcho, Scene Point Blank, Svbterranean) that have been a tremendous hidden gem of the past year, both sides of this interesting release are captivating in their own varied styles. With an experimental, industrial offering from RATIONS NOISE and their staggering work that takes a certain emotional maturity to grapple with, and more melodious side of UNKNOWN RIVER DRIVER who quite successfully married the 90s post hardcore sound with an astute ear for gritty textures and emotional hooks, this split is a real treat for anyone looking for engaging records and unconventional blends of styles. Today, we’re stoked to give you its first official hearing, along with the full track by track commentary for both sides! Dive in below and share!
Asked about their upcoming plans, the band(s) stated:
Rations Noise plans on continuing to make music/noise throughout 2019. We’re probably going to try to start off releasing stuff song-by-song digitally. I think that will jibe with our “process” best. Our stuff will be able to respond more quickly to the events in the world that drive of us to make it in the first place.
Unknown River Driver is looking to fill out a live lineup for what will hopefully be a belated release show featuring the two bands, friends, surprises, etc. this Summer
RATIONS NOISE / UNKNOWN RIVER DRIVER split is out on Jnauary 11th via 86’d Records (US), Different Kitchen (UK), Ersatz Reality (DE), Farsot (SE), Rad Girlfriend (US), and Tor Johnson (US). The cassette version is being released by Lost Cat Records (US) and No Time Records (US). Unknown River Driver recorded and mixed with Ian Bryn (bassist Tia’s brother) at his studio on Long Island. Rations Noise songs were assembled in Beaker’s dungeon. Both sides were mastered by Carl Saff and laid out by Wells.
Screams of the Wounded and Dying
This song, along with “Dronestruck” and “Consoles”, uses remixed poetry from Paul G. Weaver. He’s a friend of mine from the Quaker meetinghouse where I’m the caretaker. He’s been in the habit of printing and handing out poems to people for as long as I’ve known him. The impetus for actually doing something with some of the instrumentals Beaker had put together came from Paul handing me this poem right around the time Unknown River Driver had tracks ready and wanted to release something. – Wells
Litany for Hancock Airbase
Hancock Airbase is a US Air Force base in Syracuse, NY. It’s home to the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard, which acts as a hub for the remotely piloted General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Drone. The song uses a portion of the words from a Litany read aloud by Jack Gilroy from Upstate Drone Action during a protest blocking entrance to the base in 2017. The video includes footage of the action spliced with some of the more mostly-banal behind-the-scenes footage ripped from youtube. – Wells
The track “Dronestruck” is pretty representative of the audio process I used on our whole side: I sliced and diced studio and live recordings of Rations songs (in this case “Leaves of Grass” from Martyrs and Prisoners and a couple others) and practice sessions into short drum, bass, guitar, vocal and foley WAV samples and then arranged those manually on a DAW timeline until each track had some kind of groove or flow. I then mangled everything with destructive effects processing and pitch shifting. Along the way I tried to align the audio with the sense of dread and inhumanity of our theme. – Beaker
In a lot of ways this is my favorite track. It’s about Drone War whistleblower Brandon Bryant’s experience during and after serving in the US Air Force as a sensor operator in the targeted killing program. It was weird/hard to come up with the lyrics, but made much easier by the limited pool of words/concepts I had from Paul’s poems. It’s meant to demonstrate the ways in which the war is brought home and causes destruction and loss on both sides of the computer screen.
I’m lucky to have been in touch with Brandon during the process of making the record. Getting to know him – first through research and then through messages online – has been transformative for me. It really drove home the idea how important stories are. I’m proud as hell to have a very bit part helping to platform his story. – Wells
More words from Jack Gilroy. An apology from US taxpayers to the droned. According to War Resisters League at least 47% of the federal budget goes to paying for war. So if you’re in the US, take the lifetime total of federal income taxes paid and divide by two, you wind up with your little share of the culpability. That’s what this song is about. – Wells
UNKNOWN RIVER DRIVER SIDE
I texted Brian a snippet of the chord progression for this song back in December 2015. Brian immediately sent me the lyrics he wanted to use and I was shocked how grim and somber the content was. He was going through a lot personally at that time and I guess the turmoil he was experiencing was reflected in his lyrics. Do happy people really write good songs? I think it’s the dark stuff that has a profound impact on the listener. Fuck the happy shit. – Chris
This song was originally called “Isaiah 40:4, revisited”. I’ve always loved the use of religious allusion in music, and this song is a take on the aforementioned bible verse. The original verse suggests that the world will level out, not just in terms of the landscape, but for humanity as well. Our take suggests that there is no justice. Even when you think you’re in a stable place, human life is warfare.
When we recorded this song with Ian, Lubrano from Iron Chic and Joe from Fellow Project were both there, so they helped us to get the gang vocals at the end of the song. – Brian
Chris and I started going to see Long Island hardcore bands like Scapegrace, 1.6 band, and Halfman around 1992. We wanted to create our own music as teenagers, and we played together in a band called Lamagna where Chris honed his guitar style. I grew up as a drummer playing with him. Pour is the first song we wrote together as Unknown River Driver. It was really nice to get back on drums in this band, and to play once again with Chris’ weird time signatures and dark melodies. It was really cool to be able to join in on guitar and vocals this time around, as that’s an equation we haven’t tried before. – Brian
Song of the Cicada
It has been eons since I wrote this song. I always thought about recording some lo-fi solo guitar tunes but just never got around to it. Inspiration for this song came from recordings like Ash Bowie’s Libraness release and the recordings he did with Polvo. Brian has stated numerous times that listening to this song is like “having a nightmare about being trapped in an abandoned insane asylum”. I concur. – Chris
Misery & Liberty
This song has been rolling around for awhile, and was almost a Rations song before Unknown River Driver started playing. This is the only song that I wrote the bones of, the rest were initially Chris’ songs musically. Chris added the surfy feel to the song, and also added the Unsane-sounding transition part in the middle of the song. I love everything about the way this song came out, from the heavy drum and bass, to Tia’s dual vocals, to Chris’s guitar flourishes. – Brian