P22, Human Snake (Post Present Medium)
P22 are a Los Angeles-based quartet comprising Sofia Arreguin, Nicole-Antonia Spagnola, Justin Tenney, and Taylor Thompson. Named for a mountain lion that crossed the notorious 405 interstate to disappear into L.A.’s Griffith Park, the band’s debut full-length, Human Snake, was released in April and it’s fantastic.
While P22 could be generally classified as “punk”, it’s perhaps too restrictive and lazy a label to place on a group who make music that throws so many curves. Yes, there’s plenty of straight up hardcore (of the west coast variety), but swaddled in a hairshirt of different textures and tempos – elements of free jazz, jangle, noise, no wave, and classical pop up, with a vocal delivery that feels as much driven by beat poetry as post-punk. My (admittedly, older) ears kept going back to bands like Flipper, Saccharine Trust – ‘punk’ bands that weren’t interested in only playing something traditionally categorized as such. ‘Intro’ is a good example, starting off sounding like Saint-Saens, before settling into a tense, ominous noir of loosely strummed guitar, then dissolving into some kind of beatnik marching band number and leaving on a deconstructed freakout.
All these twists and turns keep you on your toes, but don’t feel as though they’re forcing the band’s art into artifice. The band’s playing is incredibly tight, a fact that is sometimes missed due to the mesmerizing vocal performance, but shouldn’t be ignored (I particularly enjoyed the basslines throughout – particularly on highlight, ‘Shortly’). Fun bonus: I now know what a ‘terminarch’ is (the last member of a species or subspecies, in case you wondered); #themoreyouknow #edutainment. Highly recommended.
Human Snake is available now, courtesy of Post Present Medium.
Highlights include: ‘Human Snake, 1978’; ‘Shortly’; ‘Reprise for Steer’; ’Ending Chorus for the Terminarch’