When I was 17 I saw Built to Spill, The Delusions and System and Station at Metro, and for weeks and weeks afterwards I was partially deaf. I still credit that evening as the launching pad for my hearing’s gradual decline.
Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers promises itself as the “Loudest Band in New York,” and from written reports, that may very well be true: the clashing, thunderous guitars, heavily distorted and deformed through various effects pedals (the band’s frontman is Oliver Ackermann of Death by Audio custom-pedal fame), whip up a disorienting fury on the band’s recent self-titled release—its first official full-length. An outfit that’s been around since 2003, the band has released various CDRs over that span, and compiled the top tracks for this record. A meaner Jesus and Mary Chain savagely crammed through an industrial filter, helped by Ackermann’s Ian Curtis-esque vocals, A Place to Bury Strangers buries you in its hazy battleground.
“We’re not necessarily being loud for loud’s sake,” Ackermann says. “I think that, personally, playing a live show, we want to be able to feel the music from a performer’s standpoint. We play at that volume where we can really feel what’s going on. Some of the sounds may require amps to be jacked up, or feedback [fed] through a guitar and an amp—that interplay is important to what we’re doing. It seems like people really like that, and if that draws people to it, that’s fine. I personally like that, when everything completely envelopes the listener in sound.”
An oppressive blanket of sound can lead to stupefaction, on stage and off, and Ackermann notes that the band isn’t opposed to improvisation, letting loose and seeing where the sound carries. “The key to doing anything kind of like this,” he says, “is being open to mistakes. I think that any time you make a mistake and it sounds better, always go with that. Definitely have clear ideas of what you want to have a happen, [but know that] that could easily change. I think that even at live shows, [we] try to keep things a little unknown.”
He continues, “Things fall apart. We’re always trying to push that envelope. It makes you able to deal with those things better when everything goes…wrong.” (Tom Lynch)
A Place to Bury Strangers plays February 17 at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, (773)525-2508, at 8pm, with Holy Fuck, Airiel and Stanley Ross (all worth checking out). $8.