Stream: MCMLXXIII – “Only Individual Standards”

The prolific Houston, TX sound artist Tanner Garza has launched MCMLXXIII, a new project focusing more closely on his ties to the power electronics world. Having cut his teeth in bands with pioneering harsh noise musicians such as Richard Ramirez and Sean E. Matzus (Black Leather Jesus/Slashed Pretty Girls) and Vomir, the bulk of work over the past few years has tended towards the introspective, exploratory and soporific. Gauzy tape loops, tidal drones and dreamy atmospheres abound throughout his catalogue, with the arrival of his first child in 2015 coinciding with a softening of his approach – sweeping epics such as Always and Restless seem directly related to the exhausting stress and ambrosial joy of new parenthood.

But of late, some darkness has crept back in.  Perhaps most striking of all in relation to his latest volte-face is his 2018 dissection of the Houston Mass Murders, The Man With The Candy, which positioned contemporary news reports of the time alongside stark, creeping loops and drones to devastating effect. If not exactly musically alike, it certainly shares thematic similarities – the debut issue from MCMLXXIII uses serial killer Melvin Rees as its inspiration, with his dashing image on the cover and tracks titled for his macabre musings.  For Garza this is much more than shock tactics: although he quotes Whitehouse and Maurizio Bianchi as inspiration, and the former’s “Ripper Territory” shares obvious similarities to several tracks on The Man With The Candy, Garza’s angle has always felt more investigatory than inflammatory.

All The Violent Colours Of Death is similarly creepy, never fully tipping over into flat-out noise territory but instead teetering on the softly crumbling edge of sanity. MCMLXXIII continues to rely on loops to create both tension and an aura of uncontrollable obsession that speaks to Rees’ pseudophilosophical desires, but is noticeably forthright in its delivery when compared to work in Garza’s birth name catalogue.  From the clanging alarms and sordid gloop of “Sex Beast” to the brooding cephalalgic whine of “You Can’t Say It’s Wrong To Kill,” Rees’ internal torment is well represented, but it is with the short-circuiting, relentlessly trudging “Tragic Lust” that the EP truly joins the dots. Firing off at random intervals as a Hitchockian sense of dread is allowed to build beneath, it has that horrifying Max Cady-esque quality of relentlessness to it, where the only thing that can ever truly stop the slaughter is the protagonist’s own unhinged psyche.

All The Violent Colours Of Death is available to pre-order on cassette and you can get a taste of what to expect below with the EP’s churning closer “Only Individual Standards.”