Beauty School: Residual Ugly

Humbler Records cassette and download

Wonderfully ratchety goodness from this Bay Area trio of Matt Chandler, Tom Djill and Jacob Felix Heule, which musses up its bass, drums and trumpet configuration with crumbling, homemade electronics and circuit bent trash.

A weird combination of the raw and the smooth, it’s reminiscent of a Miles Davis covers band trying to recreate the complete On The Corner sessions while on a garbage incinerator’s conveyor belt, travelling insouciantly towards annihilation as it reinvents space age funk from the ground up.

It’s dense stuff, full of glitches and spurts of dissonant fluff, with snatches of trumpet and synth occasionally making itself heard through rents and gaps in the noise. The first side is the noisier of the two, its aggression accentuated by an almost ubiquitous background roar, as if an army of earthmovers were dumping a sea of garbage into a vast landfill.

I’m particularly drawn to the fourth track on Side A – titled A4, funnily enough – which, by dint of it being nearly three times as long as its companion tracks on that side, gives the trio the chance to stretch out and develop their ideas a bit. As such, it’s really quite immersive, with a wrecked beauty, and kind of hypnotic too in its morphing, grainy enormity.

That said, I think its really better to listen to Residual Ugly as two long pieces, rather than individual tracks. This is easier on the tape as the two sides have a natural flow and rythmn which mitigates against constantly grabbing the tape case to look up track names (not that there are any).

On the flip side, things are a bit quieter, but it’s an uneasy quiet, tense and moody, with dirty whirrs and an oppressive, stuffy atmosphere. Blasts of jagged noise punctuate these spaces, with the unpredictability of a crowd of drunks in a city centre after the pubs have shut. I like this recalcitrant vibe, although I miss the melodic fragments that gave Side A a slightly more varied texture. But there’s enough sonic invention here to keep you listening to the end of the tape.
Lively and evil.


Get it here.


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