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SLICEDUB - Album Review: Grotesque Coil

27 May 2023 // A review by Steve Shyu
Oskar Simmons Carlsson and James Smith, AKA SLICEDUB. The two-man experimental-electro/dub act hailing from Auckland and Hawkes Bay have brought forth their first major release, entitled Grotesque Coil, released on Auckland label Glass Half Full.

The duo describe their sound as “heavy dub production methods, distilling a weird south Pacific blend of dark, psychedelic noise”. Following the release of the aforementioned record, I had been given personal intel by a fellow reviewer that it was “distinctly unusual”. To which I thought “There’s no way it can be that weird!”. And thus, with open ears, I dove right into this proverbial coil of grotesqueness.

The record launches with the eerie, somniferous and brooding affair that is Nettles, featuring vocalist Ro Ortiga. This style is further explored on track 2, Abandoned Urge, albeit with operatic singing courtesy of Chantelle Gerrard, though the two numbers could easily have melded into one another.

Quite interestingly, SLICEDUB called upon one or two worldly influences for this collection of tunes. Rat Kitchen features lyrics and vocals performed in Mandarin Chinese, with Colin Shaw singing

“There’s only one possibility,

There’s just one kind of choice”

With limited capabilities in my mother tongue, that was the extent I could make out in the softly-crooned vocals, amongst other words I managed to pick up. In any case, whether one understands the lyrical content, this made for an enjoyable experience, hearing a different language being used to express oneself. Aotearoa New Zealand is only going to become more multicultural, so why not lean into it?

In a somewhat similar theme, i & i is not only composed as a slow dub tune, it features some well thought-out conscious lyrics assumedly by Askia, but also very pertinent samples addressing colonisation and its effects. Once again, in a multicultural society of the modern day, why not lean into discussions of race and its connections with socio-economic issues?

Sincronia also features non-English lyrics and vocals. Like the songs prior to it on the LP, it also bears the signature of slow tempo and brooding instrumental backing, only this one is performed in Español Spanish, further showcasing the diversity SLICEDUB have been open to.

A personal highlight of the album arrives at Network Cyst, bringing together chorused chants, delicate tinklings of a guitar riff, an earthy, deep synthesised bassline, all presented over a light-footed garage rhythm. Now this one is a great example of aural balance. The brief but intriguing three-minute outing has a very dynamic atmosphere to it, almost harking back to the days of computer game lobbies as the game is loading... Something like that!

For every highlight, there was bound to be a dip. The reworking/remix of track 8 Grotesque Coil featuring Andwahn could possibly have been left on the cutting room floor. Experimental, unusual and intriguing as it was, there really wasn’t much the rehashing of the LP’s namesake track could offer over the original.

All told, this record Grotesque Coil could be about as avant-garde as it gets this year, at least according to what has so far passed through these ears anyway. Predominantly electronica, it’s a deeply eclectic melting pot of experimental trip-hop, cryptic psychedelia, stirred with non-Western influences and cultural nods. The record from start to end could serve as a great soundtrack for one to write code to produce essays, paint a painting to, or enjoyed as an experimental branch of YouTube’s “Lo-Fi HipHop Radio”.

Expand your mind, and take a mental hike; experience Grotesque Coil for yourself and tell me I’m wrong.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )


SLICEDUB are an experimental electronic/dub/art duo from Aotearoa New Zealand (with one half residing in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, and the other in Te Matau-a-Maui Hawkes Bay). They filter eclectic influences through heavy dub production methods, distilling a weird south Pacific blend of dark, psychedelic noise. After a self-released EP produced during the 2020 COVID-19 level 4 lockdowns in Aotearoa, the group returned in 2022 with mini-album, Grotesque Coil, released through Auckland label, Glass Half Full.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for SLICEDUB


Grotesque Coil
Year: 2023
Type: Album

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