Agitated Atmosphere: Manual Zombie – Autumn

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound such as Manual Zombie.

For those blissfully unaware, the do-it-yourself scene championed by the hardened skin and ballistic minds of 70s and 80s punk pioneers has found itself in the midst of a renaissance. And though the DIY scene (if such an archaic term can be used) never went away through the musical thick and thin of recent end times, its reemergence in the form of limited-run cassette and vinyl entities has lent it a whole new bravado as the indie, punk, and avant scenes that initially spawned it have marinated in decades-old juices so rancid they’ve turned into a bland molasses.

It’s from this current DIY womb that Manual Zombie has birthed their latest homemade psych child, Autumn. The self-release poses an immediate warning sign with its manic typeset and blood red dribbles. Running 50 minutes long, the 17-song CDR is a heady blend of black and blacker. This is not psychedelia made from flowers and rainbows but the sort of hell trip Charles Manson craves and Rob Zombie (no connection to Manual Zombie, for what it’s worth) dreams. Each track festers and itches, burning every inch of your skin as the venom of Autumn‘s feral blood begins to mix with yours. The songs are dripping with a sinister taint; the optimism of a generation of free love having the light of their greedy metamorphosis into money-hungry yuppies shone on their misdeeds for the first time.

Listen to “Going West”:

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Interspersed with terse movie dialogue in a throwback to experimental rock and street wise hip-hop of yore, Manual Zombie craft an album that is surely to make a permanent cigarette burn in this year’s musical happenings. Autumn carries the tough and surly Brooklyn attitude of punk’s past—a vibe as wicked and warped as New York City in the grip of Son of Sam fervor and Billy Martin blow-ups. Each track meanders along its clandestine course, only revealing its gnarled vision once Autumn has dropped its last leaf. The mix of hard rock riffs and metal attitude fed into Manual Zombie’s vision of skronk and psych produce an album that is as classic sounding as it is fresh and innovative. Everyone can relate to their youthful rebellion-in-song and Autumn takes those middle-finger salutes of kinder and breaks them with the meticulous sense of humor only an adulthood filled with misery and letdowns can conjure. Autumn is an album of shattered dreams and bloodied clothes after years of fighting for a slice of tasteless American pie but once it settles into your empty stomach, you’ll find yourself enriched with fuel to raise your favorite appendage and stoke the flames of dissension once more.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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