With the Melvins, Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover have been at the helm of sonic progress in the heavier realms of music since the late ‘80s. The same can be said of bassist Trevor Dunn, who has worked extensively with both of these sonic giants and become a prolific icon of progressive bass playing after rising to acclaim in the ‘90s with Mr. Bungle. This year the world gets to hear the efforts of Osborne and Dunn working together again on the second King Buzzo record, Gifts Of Sacrifice, where they act as an acoustic duo of guitar and double bass. Given their proclivity for musical exploration it is a perfect pairing.
Rewinding the clock to 2015, Osborne released his first solo acoustic album, Rough Democracy, under the King Buzzo moniker. The album was a burning journey through the exasperations of living in a fracked world. Fast forwarding to the present we enter the intense landscapes Buzzo and Dunn have built. The duo murmurs into presence on ‘Mental Vomit’ with Dunn playing pointillistic pizzicatos over what seems to be a cross between white noise and a loud cymbal roll in the distance. It sets the tone for an embraceable yet wild experience. Out of the cauldron of sounds, Buzzo and Dunn launch into ‘Housing, Luxury, Energy’ with a mournful atmosphere that feels tinged with a smidgen of bitterness. Much like Rough Democracy, vocal effects emerge to create emphatic differences, or specific distorted qualities. The mournful tune rips into a scathingly hard and heavy groove that continues to develop with increasing intensity until the final chord.
There is a lively, yet foreboding, grit to the album that is strikingly present for much of the album. The sonic aura could be likened to how it feels having a vulture staring down at you. You are physically unscathed, but the cold glare from an arbiter of death has briefly chilled your soul. ‘Science In Modern America’ is a glorious culmination of this ominousness. Any sense of cheer has been torn from the musical context and the lyrics are a roar against the growing ignorance amongst the human populace, particularly within the United States. As if a heavy burden has been lifted, though, Buzzo and Dunn return to a more jovial, tongue-in-cheek feel with ‘Bird Animal’ and ‘Mock She’ before once again regurgitating a plethora of sonic squirms on the final track, ‘Acoustic Junkie’.
Gifts Of Sacrifice is a wild romp of a journey that proves to be a sensational sophomoric acoustic effort for Buzzo with the addition of Dunn. The spirited edge that Buzzo showed on Rough Democracy is more refined here, and the songwriting and points of experimentation are beautifully crafted. It is a masterful achievement to add to the vast catalogues of music that both Buzzo and Dunn have created.
Gift Of Sacrifice was initially scheduled for release this May but is now due out 14th August on Ipecac. Order here.
Words: Garrett A. Tanner