Posts Tagged ‘Unmask Whoever’

Activity recently shared this track “White Phosphorus,” a b-side from their debut album “Unmask Whoever”, named as one of the best rock albums of 2020. Much like their LP, the New York City band’s latest track has a pervading eeriness, complete with hushed vocals, a steady synth hum and elusive guitar lines—not to mention bleak lyrics like “decorate the walls with horse insides.” Its twisted drama is quite cinematic, and their instrumental sprawl is nothing if not absorbing.

This is actually the first song we recorded but it didn’t work on the album. Putting it out NOW on Bandcamp only. It’s called “White Phosphorus.” We hope you enjoy!

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Released February 5th, 2021

Rising from the ashes of Brooklyn’s Grooms, Activity tread a similar dark, unsettling groove with krautrock rhythms, slashing guitars and creepy, surreal atmosphere. “Unmask Whoever” is doppelganger music for a parallel universe. This supergroup featuring members of Grooms, Field Mouse, and Russian Baths. Produced by Jeff Berner of Psychic TV. Mastered by Heba Kadry, known for her work with Bjork, Slowdive, Deerhunter, Japanese Breakfast, Cass McCombs, et al. Activity are an avant four-piece featuring Travis Johnson, and drummer Steve Levine, both from the band Grooms, bassist Zoë Browne from Field Mouse, and guitarist Jess Rees from Russian Baths. Their debut forms a casually menacing framework for lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws, and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare. Lead single Calls Your Name, establishes the record’s spectral aura with nauseated electronic bells, and a relentless Geoff Barrow-esque drum beat beneath a half-sung, half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’s 1945 novel The Great Divorce.

In the novel, characters stuck in a grey, joyless conception of hell repeatedly deny opportunities to be taken into heaven, instead making excuses as to why they should remain in their embittered purgatory states. Allegorically, this speaks to the kind of opportunity for metamorphosis and positive change that’s possible when the depths of disillusionment are reached, an idea which permeates much of the album. Despite recurrent aches of discontentment, each track glows with radiant waves of catharsis while elegantly evoking jubilation and anguish within the same breadth, showing that the two are always around the corner from one another. For fans of Blonde Redhead, Clinic, Deerhunter and Broadcast.

“Earth Angel” is both sinister and sensuous and when singer Travis Johnson sings “I wanna fuck around” barely above a whisper, danger lurks.

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Brooklyn band Activity (which includes members of Grooms, Russian Baths and Field Mouse) released their terrific debut album, Unmask Whoever, back in March and have made a new video for one of its standout cuts, “Violent and Vivisect.” The video was shot in all four members’ homes during this time of coronavirus isolation and was put together mimicking the artwork for the album. “Our record coming out in the early stages of this quarantine put our release show and tour on hold,” says guitarist Jess Reese. “We had a lot of extra musical energy with nowhere to go. We can video chat to stay in touch, but playing tunes together over the web has technological limitations – the slightest time delay makes it impossible in real time. We play off each other, listening and responding as we go. It’s really illuminating how communicative and interactive we can be as musicians, even without using a single word. Anyway, we made this video. Each of us alone, in our apartments in New York and Philadelphia. Selfie mode engaged. Looking forward to a time when this is in our past and we can reconvene.” That video premieres in this post and you can watch that, and listen to the album,

Find yourself exhausted by the brand of vibe-y instrumentals and confessional song writing that permeates much of today’s popular music? You should check out the spooky avant-garde quartet Activity. Their eerie, minimal guitar-based orchestrations will drop you into an unearthly dwelling place, but their lyrics, often softly spoken or sung, are underscored by biting human truth. Activity features members of Grooms, Field Mouse and Russian Baths, and their debut album, Unmask Whoever, came out on March 27th via Western Vinyl.

Jess Zoë and Steve Travis  Debut album ‘Unmask Whoever’ out now on Western Vinyl released March 27th, 2020 ,

Activity are an avant four-piece featuring Travis Johnson, and drummer Steve Levine, both from the band Grooms, bassist Zoë Browne from Field Mouse, and guitarist Jess Rees from Russian Baths.  Produced by engineer Jeff Berner of Psychic TV, their debut forms a casually menacing framework for lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws, and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare.

Lead single “Calls Your Name,” establishes the record’s spectral aura with nauseated electronic bells, and a relentless Geoff Barrow-esque drum beat beneath a half-sung, half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’s 1945 novel The Great Divorce.  In the novel, characters stuck in a grey, joyless conception of hell repeatedly deny opportunities to be taken into heaven, instead making excuses as to why they should remain in their embittered purgatory states.  Allegorically, this speaks to the kind of opportunity for metamorphosis and positive change that’s possible when the depths of disillusionment are reached, an idea which permeates much of the album.  Despite recurrent aches of discontentment, each track glows with radiant waves of catharsis while elegantly evoking jubilation and anguish within the same breadth, showing that the two are always around the corner from one another.

Sinister and calming sounds might seem mutually exclusive, but New York City’s Activity beg to differ. The experimental quartet’s debut album, “Unmask Whoever”, which came out earlier this year via Western Vinyl, delights with its warm psych-pop bluster, but sufficiently would deter me from graveyard listening due to its ominous undercurrents. Its dark, understated melodies and hushed vocals make it feel like a fever dream, but one where you’re weirdly comforted by the surreal, slow-moving confusion. The witchy lead single “Calls Your Name” led me to believe the album would contain 10 songs of nightmarish, sacrificial moods, but it’s actually an outlier in that regard. Unmask Whoever is a beautiful, detailed LP of wonder.

Earth Angel  released on Western Vinyl 
Released on: 2020-02-18

Activity are an avant four-piece featuring Travis Johnson, and drummer Steve Levine, both from the band Grooms, bassist Zoë Browne from Field Mouse, and guitarist Jess Rees from Russian Baths. Produced by engineer Jeff Berner of Psychic TV, their debut forms a casually menacing framework for lyrical themes of paranoia, exposed character flaws, and the broader human capacity for growth when an ugly truth is laid bare.

Lead single “Calls Your Name,” establishes the record’s spectral aura with nauseated electronic bells, and a relentless Geoff Barrow-esque drum beat beneath a half-sung, half-spoken lyrics inspired by C.S. Lewis’s 1945 novel The Great Divorce. In the novel, characters stuck in a grey, joyless conception of hell repeatedly deny opportunities to be taken into heaven, instead making excuses as to why they should remain in their embittered purgatory states. Allegorically, this speaks to the kind of opportunity for metamorphosis and positive change that’s possible when the depths of disillusionment are reached, an idea which permeates much of the album. Despite recurrent aches of discontentment, each track glows with radiant waves of catharsis while elegantly evoking jubilation and anguish within the same breadth, showing that the two are always around the corner from one another.

Experimental, avant-garde art rock from members of Grooms, Field Mouse and Russian Baths.  available March 27th, 2020 on Western Vinyl Records.
Released March 27th, 2020