19 May 2024

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Swamp Rat Collective - EP Review: Flash Sneakers

16 Apr 2024 // A review by Callum Wagstaff

The Swamp Rat Collective is a dirty, matted tangle of influences from the guitar music of the era between the late 80's and early 2000's. The project is a collaboration between Paul Cowsill (rhythm and bass guitar) and Adam Gatt (lead guitar) that crosses the ocean, comprising parties from Auckland, New Zealand as well as London, UK.

SRC is all about fuzzed out dirty rock n’ roll grooves and short, punchy jams.
Their new EP, Flash Sneakers, is a crash course in the Swamp Rat sound. 4 tracks last barely more than 10 minutes and it's a true revelation to hear jam music that doesn't outstay its welcome.

The genre of each track on Flash Shoes is quite distinct. Dirty disco beats and grimy desert funk immediately give way to acoustic shoegaze loopery with Satriani meets Clapton-esque lead parts when title track Flash Sneakers changes to the second jam Dippertronics. World music percussion with stomping on top of wild west mirage music gives way to vocal oohs and a beat switching between 4/4 and 2/4 that feels evocative of Fleetwood Mac. That's what it sounds like when Neanderthal Drift moves to the final track, The Twins.

There is an overarching theme across the project of spacey delay and psychedelic-come-shoegaze use of the signal chain. That motif is strengthened in key areas by nods to space travel.
The opening song features clips of what sounds like NASA radio conversations and the second track title combines diptronics with (probably) a reference to the big dipper. Even the album art is a groovy spaceman with a boom box.
Maybe it's an invitation to travel across the cosmos of sound led by a couple of something-nauts swaggeriung in metaphorical star sneakers to lead you to the next great plain of consciousness. Or maybe nostalgic culture mixed with space is just a great angle both visually and aurally.
Either way it's cool. The clips and neo retro artwork compliment the pedal heavy atmosphere of thick, sludgy fuzz laced with popping candy.

The guitar work across the run time of Flash Sneakers takes surprising forays out into interesting modes and angular key departures. Blistering solos with baffling complexity aren't afraid to rest on a particularly poignant phrase and let it sink in emotionally.
The frantic playing on the title track scrambles higher and higher like a redlining gauge, while Neanderthal drift serves fresh riffage with plenty of tasty open notes to plunge your ear fluid into the fat grooves carved out by the girthy stops of the drumbeat.

The drums deserve a little mention. This band is definitely a guitar band, but they haven't been satisfied with basic backing drums. Each track adds a little something, from subtle time changes or little polyrhythmic hi-hat parts to the attention to sonic detail on the dirt kicking, beefy bass stomps. The varied beats have been a part of the EP's eclectic sound.

Flash Sneakers feels like somebody built a tower into the outer atmosphere that lets you contemplate the stars in zero gravity before plunging you face first into the dirt and then repeating for 10 minutes. Cowsill and Gatt are carnival astronauts who operate a theme park ride at Burning Man.

By the end of your trip with The Swamp Rat Collective, you won't remember if you were the dirtbag who got shot into space or the spaceman who drank cactus juice and woke up in a tumbleweed.


About Swamp Rat Collective

Swamp Rat Collective is a recording project based out of Auckland, New Zealand and London, UK.

The Swamp Rats are all about fuzzed out dirty rock n’ roll grooves with a variety of influences including Tool, ZZ Top, Jack White, Alice in Chains, Van Halen, Helmet, Gorillaz, Led Zeppelin, Filter and Mogwai to name a few.

Keep an eye and ear out for their new EP Flash Sneakers out March in 2024.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Swamp Rat Collective


Flash Sneakers
Year: 2024
Type: EP

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