The mediasphere is a major theme in contemporary art, so Carl Auge's interest in representing invisible, ubiquitous "heat, sound, light or shock waves" is less surprising than the somber emotion that pervades these oil paintings. Here, buildings are loosely rendered, either in elevation or in oblique view, and set against backgrounds tinted in Expressionist hues: sullen greens, steely blue-grays, and acrid yellow-ochers. The black brushwork atop colored backgrounds recalls Salle, the restless movement recalls Munch's surging universe, and the rippling surface seems distorted by heat. Auge's monumental architecture keeps the energy contained, however. The flight of stone steps in "Building a Pyramid" leads skyward but remains earthbound, a spalling petrified skyscraper. The bank facade depicted in "Brown Sky" seems less a cheery brand-name product placement than hubrism on a mausoleum. Radiate and fade away. Resound runs through August 22 at Rowan Morrison Gallery (330 40th St., Oakland). RowanMorrison.com or 510-384-5344
— DeWitt Cheng
Cut The Crust
SYNDROMES S/T EP Review
If Sisyphus ditched that enormous rock and just made killer crust records, it’d likely resemble the discography of His Hero Is Gone‘s family tree. Fuck, the records that have come from that lineage alone read like a “how to backpatch” PSA. Set to drop April 21st on the ever-crucial Halo Of Flies, Syndromes S/T EP is jaw-dropping for a band hardly a year old. With musical blood also donated from the mighty Masakari, the group’s first output finds them in sparring shape, trading blows with the genre’s heavyweights.
Admittedly, I love the D-beat. Love it. Yet, the EP takes its feral shape in the land before the pummel. Though far from glacial, Syndromes specialize in slowly building passages a la kings Tragedy. The bulldozing effect when the floor toms signal quickly approaching oblivion is chilling. All it took was hearing the transition from the dirge of first track “Vessel” churning into a relentless gallop to realize that we have an instant classic on our hands. With members of such heritage bands, I expected quality crust. I didn’t expect it to hold court with the classics. I hear bits of Amebix in their shared ability to simultaneously conjure visual extremes, Wolfbrigade in the unrelenting vocal delivery. Upon repeat listens, I see the rising stench of August in a phantom New York City, the immovable sculpture of depression yet to thaw and, perhaps most vividly, the scorched dystopia of our post- thought modern era. The crumbling house adorning the cover art begs the question – how long can we trust the foundation before it betrays us? The Usher house eventually fell. Syndromes are here to ensure it happens. This is heady stuff, to be sure.
With that said, we aren’t reinventing the wheel… they’re riding it until the bearings burn off.
-Adam Yoe, Published April 10, 2017