RATIONS NOISE / UNKNOWN RIVER DRIVERS: Dronestruck / Remains: Split: LP

This is an important album. Complex, equally cathartic and resounding in despair, politically agitating and agitated clarion. The Unknown River Driver side is grit and gravel, guitar-based punk: painful personal content with thoughtful social and political nuance. It expands and contracts, saturated with sadness and note bends. Standouts for me are two of the more catchy contributions, “Isaiah” and “Misery & Liberty.” The latter begins with a danceable drum beat/hand clap hook which acts as a lovely counterpoint to the lyrics and emotional tone of the guitars. “It worsens until I don’t feel.” It’s an incendiary representation of feelings I’ve known so well, when we live so long with suffering it becomes familiar; when pain and despair dwell so comfortably in our bones and bodies our awareness of them dulls. For the Rations Noise side: a lesson in so much. Based on this being a noise project centering on drone warfare, I expected something far more aggressive, dissonant, and brutally oppressive. Instead what unfolds is a beautiful, often gentle and pensive, cinematic and sweeping piece of experimental music. Imagine a collaboration between Explosions In The Sky and 3RA1N1AC and you’ll perhaps have an idea of what transpires here. Rather than being entirely an exposé on the horrors of murder perpetrated by unmanned attack vehicles, this album feels like impassioned education. A pyre of honor to the activists who seek to expose and heal the crimes of a war profiteering nation. It’s inspiring. It’s vital. “Our tax dollars for death… Forgive us.” –CJ Miller (86’d / Different Kitchen / Tor Johnson / Ersatz Reality / Farsot / Rad Girlfriend)