There’s really no way to sum up the sound of Corrections House. If you listen to each one of the members’ individual projects, then you can maybe get an idea if you just imagine a nice blend of the four of them. It’s not metal, it’s not industrial, and it’s certainly not easily classified. But overall, it’s pure genius!
First up, let’s take a look at the only released song from this collaboration, entitled “Hoax the System.” The video features two unknown masked men, one pounding a drum and the other wandering in the woods, mixed with cryptic images that bring about the ideas of isolation and death. “I speak Catholic hate and crush history, under a bruised fist” barks vocalist Mike IX [Eyehategod] while a pounding drum and saxophone swirl fill the atmosphere with just a touch of guitar chords echoing about, courtesty of Scott Kelly [Neurosis/Shrinebuilder]. “The urge inside me, the values I hold dear, are vile and out of spite. The rugged terrain I walk is mine, only mine,” continues Mike as the song’s energy builds into a rhythm and beat that becomes almost militant over a haunting churn in the background. “Plague… Revolt,” he shouts as the song continues with brief images flashing on the screen in time with the beat. As brilliant and ethereal as this song is, it is absolutely nothing compared to the live spectacle that I witnessed in Houston on 7th February.
When I spoke to vocalist Mike IX way back in December, he had mentioned this project and described it as “four solo sets of noise stuff/experimental/acoustic, and I’m doing spoken word.” With a description such as this, I had no clue what to expect. Once the video for “Hoax the System” hit the internet, it began to make much more sense, but still didn’t really fill in all the gaps. Again, I had no clue what to expect, but Bruce Lamont [Yakuza/Circle of Animals] described the group’s approach as having “no expectations” before saying that their performance in New York City on 21st January was the first time they had performed together, ever. During our conversation, I mention to him that “Hoax the System” certainly impressed me and that I couldn’t wait to see the whole spectacle, especially after seeing various live clips on the internet. Lamont replied with “our shows now sound way different.”
Based on Mike’s comment of “four solo sets” I was sort of expecting each one of the four members of Corrections House to spend a few minutes on stage by themselves, showing off their crafts. That kind of happened, but with a slow blend to it. The first man to hit the stage was Sanford Parker [Nachtmystium/Circle of Animals] who found his spot behind a table loaded with a laptop computer and various synth processors. Parker fills the air with sounds that are almost like the soundtrack of a slow acid trip with creepy vocal lines and musical mindsets looped in and faded out, with a fever dream slowly being mixed in. Eventually, Lamont takes the stage with his saxophone being run through various delays and effects to give a euphoric feel to the atmosphere. While his low notes are resonating in the air, bits of saxophone soloing are thrown into the mix, no different than a guitarist soloing over a rhythm track. If you were to sit back and close your eyes while listening to this blend of Parker and Lamont, you could easily imagine yourself laying on down in an opened boat floating down the Ganges River in India on an expedition. Once Scott Kelly hits the stage, his unmistakable tone and feel perfectly melt into the musical mix without overshadowing anyone. Eventually, Lamont sets his saxophone aside and begins chanting into a vocal microphone, delayed and reverbed just the same, and sounds almost like a lost monk laying down Gregorian Chants for an intense musical project.
While all of this is going on, Mike IX paces on the side of the stage, drink in hand, as if he’s building up his nerve to come out, or just waiting for the perfect time. Once he wanders up to the microphone, book and notes in hand, his style of spoken word becomes center stage. His words are insightful, misanthropic, and sometimes angry, but still very real and honest. “My Kevlar vest took 3,045 rounds, then I rolled over and took a piss,” he says as the trio behind him maintains their groove. The most impressive moment of their performance comes from how the mood will instantly shift, with Sanford and Bruce easing down their prominence with Kelly shifting his gears towards a slow and somber riff played with a clean tone, which hit me like a ton of bricks, but Mike’s approach to his words never changes or falters. It’s still direct and precise, with a hint of his snarl and spite in the background. In a single moment, your ears go from being drilled by their sound to being slowly settled and relaxed in a gentle move, rather than a radical change. It was brilliant, and it was perfect. At different times, it could sound hostile, sorrowful, and even slightly pretty.
In a way, I could spend hours describing the sounds I heard on this night, but if you were to head out to a Corrections House show expecting this same sound, you might be mistaken. It is indeed very possible that the live spectacle I witnessed in Houston was not the same as the New York crowd witnessed, and won’t be the same that Denver witnesses on the last night of the tour. Either way, it is certainly a live experience that should not be missed. At the present time, Corrections House has no further live dates scheduled, but more could certainly be in the works. European audiences could expect to see this by the end of the year, but for now, you might just have to satisfy yourself with the “Hoax the System” video, live clips posted online, and their forthcoming 7 inch release. Before you listen though, be forewarned that this is only the tip of the musical iceberg, and a mere pittance of what could be in the future. (Many thanks to Ben Yaker for pictures. More live shots can be seen here.)
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