Aum Fidelity

So what happens when an avant-jazz label releases a record by an unknown punk-art band in 2003? That's what Aum Fidelity, best known for tracking the comings and goings of bass titan William Parker and cohorts like fingerpicker Joe Morris and fancy fiddler Mat Maneri, has tried to do with a five piece, female-fronted band called Daughter. Come to think of it, that's what ESP-Disk, best known for their Albert Ayler albums, did with the Holy Modal Rounders back in 1967 (an album called Indian War Whoop). And they have important things in common: in particular, both labels let their artists wander wherever they feel like, and none of the artists have decided what they want to be when/if they grow up. But there are differences as well: most importantly, Daughter entered the studio with more ideas than drugs, and while their music aspires to crudeness, they've certainly practiced a lot more than Steve Weber did.

It may be best to think of the Daughter record, Skin, as an EP, which in this case doubles for "Experimental Product." For one thing, it's short (30:29 not counting the mystery track at the end), with a median song length of 2:36. Not that either of those figures are exceptionally short for punk, but only the first four pieces really qualify as punk: "Erased" is pure rant; "Misbehaving" is a Ramones-ish guitar song; "Hit Me" is another rant, juiced with screams and pounding drums; "Suicide Note" is another song ("I'm going to be the one you write your suicide note to"). All are fast, and they slip by faster than you can catch them. But before you think they're going Rancid on you, they slow it down on "Blunt" (with two raps running interference over an atmospheric backbeat) and pump it up on "Packin'" (two raps running interference over proto-heavy metal). "Hands in the Pants" is another rap, traded this time, a bit reminiscent of Northern State. "Love Song," appropriately enough, is vintage hardcore. "Sweet Appraisal" sounds more like the Heartbreakers, and if the rip isn't obvious enough, the following "Lonely Gauge," with its "I'm not done misbehaving" reprise, sounds like an outtake from Johnny Thunders' So Alone. One more punkish rant ("I'm not waiting for an invitation/to fuck all night without introduction"), then a complete change of pace: an unlisted track presenting a science lecture on digital audio unveiled amidst crackly static. It's a weird tour de force, and makes you wonder what they'll do when/if they do grow up. But not in much hurry for that to happen.

Track List

  1. Erased - 2:36
  2. Misbehaving - 2:46
  3. Hit Me - 1:57
  4. Suicide Note - 2:33
  5. Blunt - 3:59
  6. Packin' - 4:12
  7. Hands in the Pants - 2:57
  8. Love Song - 2:00
  9. Sweet Appraisal - 2:03
  10. Lonely Gauge - 3:11
  11. Do I Dare - 1:44
  12. [An Explication] - 4:18
All songs written by Daughter.

M.L. Platt (vocals), Nicole Lombardi (bass/vocals), Cezhan Ambrose (guitar/bass), Joe Fiorentino (guitar), Mike Linn (drums).

Produced by DÖS. Recorded by Mark Ospovat at Emandee Studio. Mixed by J.Z. Barrell + DÖS. Mastered by Chris Flam/Mindswerve.

Aum Fidelity Website

Copyright © 2003 Tom Hull.