Heavy Blanket, ‘Heavy Blanket’ – Album Review
As the name implies, ‘Heavy Blanket’ is both heavy and cozy — in a frenetic, soul-smashing kind of way. As the name doesn’t imply, the J Mascis side project’s self-titled debut is meandering, notey, stumbling, instrumental. A press release implies that Mascis wrote these songs decades ago, but his (possibly imaginary) bandmates were injured or arrested, though a tad incredulous. That’s a lot of ambiguity for such a simple album. Lyric-free and with little song structure, ‘Blanket’ is like ‘The Evil Dead’ — so bad, it’s good. If you’re looking for something artistically significant, the J Mascis backlogue of Dinosaur Jr. and solo work will supply; if you just want something to light your lava lamp, these are six songs for you.
The combination of sludgy bass, sloppy guitars and burning frets lights up the pleasure receptors of the 20 or 30-something male’s lizard brain — a stoney unpretentious excellence, a suiting soundtrack to a cosmic Taco Bell run. While Maestro Mascis isn’t concerned with creating some grand statement, he is concerned with melting your face.
Being that this genre — call it stoner metal or sludge rock or whatever — is so tied with hallucinogenics, it seems only proper to describe each song as if it were a fever dream, a review via vision:
‘Galloping Toward the Unknown’: Walking down a city block. The moon is high in the sky, streetlights reflect in the puddles. Moisture lingers in the air, and so does a noise, though faint. Changing directions, you head toward the sound, now recognized as music. Quiet apartment buildings in a row, save one for erupting with staccato Fender wails. You walk to the door and knock. A cymbal crash welcomes you in, but no one’s inside — only a totemic blanket, curled and towering in the room’s center, surrounded by long white hair.
‘Spit in the Eye’: You’re on your pirate ship, nearing the end of a zombie battle. Your cutlass feels heavy in your hand, you spit up blood, but you’re unsure if it’s yours, your crewmen’s or the zombies’. Fearing undead hemoglobin, you begin to vomit up everything else: soulsludged blackened by a thousand sins pouring out from your gullet, chest heaving with fuzzy low bassline, your blood pulsing like Mascis firepicking. Exhausted of the terror, you fade out, nearly eight minutes in.
‘Blockheads’: You’re in the back seat of a Corvette convertable speeding through the low Nevada desert. The wind rushes through your hair, two maniacs shout at one another in the front seats: one says he’s a journalist, the other an attorney. Hunter S. Thompson turns the dial of the ruby red convertible to ‘Blockheads,’ J Mascis’ ode to Gumby villains. “That’s the stuff,” he shouts back at you. The lawyer turns around and screams, “Dig this breakdown!” You can’t help but smile, terrified.
‘Corpuscle Through Time’: (Preface: the tacile corpuscle is the nerve responsible for sensitivity to light touch.) Blindness. Sensations of touch: rough, smooth, ragged, wet, sharp, hot, too hot, sharp, smooth, rapid, grooved, rough, wet, white hot. Sight.
‘Dr. Marten’s Blues’: The tyrannosaurus hears a sound over sway of branches — of prey, of promise. She bounds through the familiar forest, stepping quickly over root and thorn. The steps gets louder. Must be bigger prey. She opens her stride, hungry for her meal. As she nears the top of her sprint, she steps on something slick — a banana peel’s been thrown in her way! — and wipes out across the forest path. She hears a cackle of glee. It’s her son: Dinosaur Jr.
‘No Telling No Trails’: Wind bites at your face, at least where you can still feel it. Eyes dark from all the sun — the villagers call it snow blindness. You lurch up the path alone, the summit in sight. A man had to be eaten in the past days. You carry his wedding ring, a gift for his unknowingly bereaved wife, in a satchel as your side. You step slowly, lurching like drum beats. Your march has almost become a stumble, but you will make it to the top of this mountain, even if it means being wicked, solo.
This is chicken soup for the stoner soul. Slurp it up.