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Brandon Seabrook’s Needle Driver Twist The Knife On “Synonymph”

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Brandon Seabrook’s Needle Driver is a great example of a specific breed of New York technical music that benefits from the city’s musical traditions. When compared to say, Midwestern math-rock, there’s a vast overlap of songwriting tricks. Both make liberal use of asymmetrical rhythms and put a premium on intricate, syncopated interplay between the instrumentalists. In short: it’s complicated on purpose. Where Seabrook’s newest project differs from their contemporaries across the globe is that the their use of those songwriting concepts is informed by the harmony of jazz and the deliberate antagonism of New York’s experimental rock. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with Seabrook’s work, but the guitarist’s collaboration with the rhythm section of Johnny Deblase and Allison Miller feels more strictly organized and more given to the long legacy of hard-nosed New York musicians.

“Synonymph,” the new single from the trio’s upcoming debut, is a dexterous act of musical bullying. The song opens with an increasingly uncomfortable tickle attack, each instrument nimbly landing where you least expect it and at alarming speeds. The further it eases off the ears rhythmically, the more it piles on the discomfort with “twist the knife” harmony. During the piece’s string heavy bridge, as close as it gets to subdued, the instruments grind against each other, revealing in the ugliest bends of harmony that they can find to hang on. That same disharmonious snarl gets carried over to the song’s climax where the band returns to the dizzying speed of “Synonymph”’s introduction. It’s a similar kind of “musicianship as a cudgel” approach that bands like Helmet, Unsane, Behold The Arctopus, and countless others have used to punish New York audiences for decades. Seabrook, Miller, and Deblase carry on that legacy with devilish competence.

Stream “Synonymph” below. Needle Driver is out on October 27th via Nefarious Industries.

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