Sam Mickens - Slay & Slake (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Sam Mickens

Slay & Slake (2011)

Shatter Your Leaves

Oh man. There's no easy way to say this, so I'm just going to come out with it: Slay & Slake, the new avant electronic whatever release from Sam Mickens (ex-Dead Science/Xiu Xiu) is not good. It's actually quite terrible. Unlistenable even. That's the point, of course; it's avant-garde. But for me, it's just this slow, lumbering, snoring collection of not-songs.

It mostly comes down to the vocals. The music is plodding electronic shoegaze that occasionally dips into High Places-esque Caribbean touches and David Bowie psych-folk, but I'll take Space Oddity over anything here. There's not much going on, but at least it's sort of coherent. But when Mickens gets on the mic, he sings with this weird quaver that makes it sound like he's masturbating and being electrocuted at the same time. Considering the record lasts 44 minutes, Mickens sure can last.

But these songs have no dynamics. Oh, things happen. "Grisly Ghouls" awkwardly grafts in a rap break. Guitars might randomly appear, like on the Bowie freak-folk track "The Will to Live," but generally speaking every song is the same. Mickens prattles on and on about something, a whisper of a beat sort of acts as a guide and snippets of instruments waft in and out. But there's nothing going on here. This is anti-music (which makes it tru punx, amiright?).