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cowman - palpating the rumen

Live Music Scene
May 2009

In his press release I am warned that Cowman’s music is not for the faint hearted. Well, seeing as the maid’s I’ve won over the years largely fall into the unfair category I was inclined to believe that I wouldn’t enjoy what I was about to hear. A few of the song titles reinforced this preconception – ‘Jerking off to bad internet porn’, ‘Kiddie Rape’ and ‘School Shootings Tour 2007’ are the kind of offensive for the sake of it titles that weren’t even funny or clever when infamous cult band A.C. were churning them out in the nineties. Thirdly, at twenty tracks in length I was thinking I was in for an almighty slog. Well it turns out that ‘Palpating the Rumen’ is more than worthy of a listen. With programmed beats keeping things tight and driving, distorted basslines battling with industrial bleeps and vocals that can only really be described as a growling mumble Cowman has created a sound that is most diverting.
Anyone who likes The Fall for the music as much as the lyrics will likely find a lot to enjoy here. If I had to describe the sound in a nutshell I’d veer towards the territory of a post-apocalyptic Velvet Underground jamming with Death From Above 1979, although perhaps over the course of the entire album it’s not quite as thrilling as that sounds. Indeed most of the tracks here tend to bleed into one and perhaps it wouldn’t have been a terrible idea to drop five or six of them. ‘Tension’ is a minute or so of terrifying industrial noise. ‘Painful Monotony’ is an epic, clocking in at a monstrous eight minutes, but really didn’t need to be – see what he’s done there? ‘Ill’ is as close as this album gets to a haunting melody, and for the closing ‘Ghostcow’ we’re firmly back in the realms of noise terrorism. What sounds like a lawnmower that won’t quite rev up is the foundation and shards of pure racket scrape over the top along with the occasional appearance of a fractured beat and a visceral casio keyboard melody. A splendid way to end an album that is certainly relentless and is far from commercial yet is created by a man who is not afraid of melody, simply chooses to be most liberal with it.
I hear that there was recently a launch party for this album with a live performance from Cowman, among others. Well after having a listen I’m beginning to wish I’d been there. Lurking in the corner with a hood up and sunglasses firmly on admittedly, but there all the same. Cowman may not be an exact DNA match but I would recommend anyone who enjoys The Melvins, 65 Days of Static or Liars could do worse than giving him a listen. If he was to be a support act for any of those bands I’d say it would be likely that he’d win over at least some of their crowd. Having said all this, I now feel like I do when I’ve watched a most disturbing film and need to watch a bit of comedy just to take me out of that place. Maybe it’s time for a bit of Rolf Harris.
By Dave Urwin

August 2009

One man band makes quite a racket...
Cowman certainly isn’t making background music for the casual listener. ‘Palpating the rumen’ is twenty tracks in length and it really is quite intense stuff throughout.
The album starts as it means to go on, with pounding pre-programmed drums and a bassy distorted guitar racket played over the top. It’s mostly music (or rather noise) focused but there are some pretty dark sounding vocals which accompany tracks and although they are often quite low in the mix amongst the onslaught they do add a darker edge to it all.
This is experimental stuff that although described on the sleeve as ‘hardcore industrial grind music’ is clearly the product of many influences of varying genres. It’s a shambolic and at times monotonous mess, but a well produced consistent album was clearly not the aim here, it’s chaotic and deliberately so. There’s a punk attitude to it all which means it’s almost impossible to categorise. Don’t let this put you off though.
If, like your reviewer, the promise of fast paced and at times (intentionally) utterly bizarre music with songs titles such as ‘Massive Vagina’ and ‘Painful Monotony’ gets you interested enough to take a listen - then might you might just like this. But undoubtedly to many of you this album will sound as appealing as a weekend away with Josef Fritzl.
By: Luke Jovetic

Sept 2009

Some kind of frantic insect-like relentlessly scuttling scratchy bass punky locked-on drone that’s all wired up and frantic and pecking and pecking some more and on it goes pecking at the wire, sounds like more than one bass, sounds all obtuse and angular and frenetic and menacing and like things are never going to end and on and on scratching and pecking and drilling and sometimes kind of singing in a frantically shouty way underneath the constant drive that never ends, never stops pecking at the wire and the awkward timings and and arrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Like being eaten by thousands of little scratchy metal insects

November 2009

You’re gonna love this. Assuming, that is, that you love abrasive industrial grind. Imagine your delight as fractured guitars and demented drum machine yank you insistently through opener ‘Jerking Off to Bad Internet Porn’, two-ish minutes of suitably repetitive, unfulfilling self-abuse. Later you’ll thrill to mournful instrumental ‘Massive Vagina; squeal with glee as Cowman rasps over more sandblasted guitar and ADHD push-button beats on airplay-friendly ‘(It’s so fun) Kiddie Rape’; and gurgle with delight as this unsettling one-man band croaks demonically on ‘Bum Spud’, then squawks like a sick chicken on the not inaccurately titled ‘Painful Monotony’. Yup, if you loved that, the satanic roar of ‘Hellaween’ and the through-your-head panning of atmospheric static’n’noise finale ‘Ghostcow’ will be a real treat. If not, these 20 alienating ear-assaults might leave you longing for the rattle of the abattoir truck.
Mike White