A few years ago Bryan Ramirez was telling me about the influence of Ex-Cocaine on virgin ears. The strangely hypnotic duo—part peaceful folk aura, part bridled noise— didn’t always take at first listen, but still generated a loyal local following. “I think it sticks with you,” Ramirez hypothesized, “and [listeners] get it, just later.”
Consider myself got.
There’s something about their two songs—totaling more than 20 minutes—on this new split LP. I’ve listened to past releases from guitarist Ramirez and drummer Michael Casler, and heard them live a handful of times. (The once-local duo never split despite Casler’s 2004 move to Minneapolis.) It was good stuff; engrossed and experimental. But their latest somehow connects in a more immediate way.
“Sexy Music” is a 10-minute-plus cover of the Meat Puppets’ track warped into slow motion. The sludgy drone of electric guitar and reverb wrestles with drowned vocals, giving lines like “Give me superhuman strength, to wipe out what is wrong/Give me all of everything, I’ve wanted for so long” a ghostly sense of urgency. “Black Cat Lament” is more vintage Ex-Cocaine, a Dead-like space session with as much muscle as mellowness, and never wasteful. Consider it form-fitted for headphones.
Ex-Cocaine may not be for everyone at first, but heed Ramirez’s advice. Listen now. Sooner or later, you’ll treasure what they’ve accomplished. (Skylar Browning)
A limited run of 600 Ex-Cocaine/Yellow Swan LPs are available now at notnotfun.com. $13.