contact: The Escaped Youth Tapes
On young artists and poetry.
By August Edwards
Fresh off a tour of the US South is post-punk band contact. contact released their first EP a few weeks ago (which is the first-ever physical release from Fly Honey Warehouse!). Find the EP, The Escaped Youth Tapes, on Bandcamp now.
What do you get when you combine a colorful craigslist ad, collaborative passion, and a guitarist who broke his arm in the pit at a GWAR show? That'd be the ABQ band contact.
contact, the band formerly known as Escaped Youth, is comprised of Gabriel Pacheco (bass), Cesar Lezama (drums), Tyler Sovelove (guitar), Camas Allison-Bunnell (violin), and Eric Mulliniks (guitar, vocals).
The album kicks off with an slick and captivating instrumental intro. Droning guitar grinds grimly then melts into a sweet violin. The melody remains sparse, like careful brick-laying, establishing the intense relationship between these instruments. The following track, “Words of Pressure,” falls in line with a similar impenetrability—rhythm-driven ferocity. Every syllable uttered by Mulliniks is uniform and guttural.
In "Railroad Track," the sound is grainy but opens up for the shimmering slither of violin. This song has some of my favorite lyrics: “Thrown out / the boxcar train / like you’re leaving / the womb.” The lyrics are sort of delivered like Jim Morrison’s poetry—heavy and sincere—and just as picture-like. Like a levee about to break, like a locomotive gaining steam.
“Bathtub” is my favorite on the album. Mulliniks is equal parts singer and uncanny storyteller.
There’s a cadence that sounds a lot like recited poetry. There’s purposeful meter, a lot of breath—which on the page would translate to white space. It wasn’t a surprise to learn aspects of the band's affinities. “To this day I think Rimbaud and the Beat poets remain a large influence on our ethos as a group,” said Pacheco.
"The first iteration of the band was formed through an unhinged craigslist ad that I had put out that Tyler [Sovelove] responded to. The title of the ad was something like 'seeking burnouts, art punks, and literati' so obviously there was a spirit and aesthetic that was being aimed for. I think one of the founding principles of the band was poetry and literature," Pacheco elaborated.
The Escaped Youth Tapes is a blast, groovy to the last second, especially if you’re looking for good post-punk. It's even a little sexy, just because of the slow, natural build to the clear climax in "Bathtub." But Pacheco's stated relation to Rimbaud brings it to a whole new level for me.
Rimbaud, who made most of his poetry before he turned 20, was celebrated for not caring about poetry in a traditional way. He lived a life of adventure and disaster; he was a brash, vulgar young person doing amazing things. Truthfully, I liken his audacity to that of any musician who chooses to go on tour.
The drudging, doomlike quality to The Escaped Youth Tapes, to me, mirrors Rimbaud's poetic quest to revel in a certain kind of ether—not the beginning, not the end.
This album does not exist in the ether, though—there’s a structure that feels like a classic plot. “Bathtub” contains a dramatic increase in speed that you can’t help but feel in your body, like something needs to get out of you, so you move along with the pace until finally there’s a release—a long release. That is rising action, climax, and falling action, like the energy of the EP expended itself.
While each track in The Escaped Youth Tapes is solid, what's special about the collection is the tangible surrender, which I think everyone would get a kick out of.
In an Instagram post in mid-October, contact wrote, “we have much left to say as a band, we are wired to say it, and we hope you hear it.” We are hearing it. contact is doubtlessly a live wire, ball of fire, compact empire with an exciting artistic journey ahead.