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ReleaseProduct
Grim Iconic...(Sadistic Mantra)
Artist
Display Artist
J.R.C.G.
Label
Sub Pop Records
Catalogue Number
SP1641
Release Date
August 2, 2024
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    320 kbps, LAME-encoded

    Available: August 2, 2024

To experience Justin R. Cruz Gallego’s pulverizing Sub Pop debut is to get burned down to ashes and burst forth, born anew. Grim Iconic...(Sadistic Mantra), the Tacoma-based artist’s second album, is driven by opposing forces: noisy abstractions and tightly structured beats, anguish and dissolution at the outside world and empowerment within, apathy and catharsis. Grim Iconic...(Sadistic Mantra) weds scouring electronics to hooky songs and Gallego’s powerful drumming in a way that feels visceral and new. It’s his most personal statement to date, at once playful and intent, driven and combustible, total fucking chaos mixed into glints of broken-glass beauty.

Born in Tucson, Arizona, Gallego experienced culture shock as a child after relocating to the frigid climes of the Pacific Northwest. He found solace in the Seattle punk scene centered around Iron Lung Records and has since remained a fixture in the underground community.

“I see this record as first and foremost a musical statement,” Gallego says. “I grew up in punk and DIY subcultures, but before that I had Latin music playing in the background through my childhood and every phase of adolescence. It was surprisingly natural to incorporate. I realized I wanted to go deeper into these rhythms. I wanted to make a record that felt as experimental as much as it felt from the perspective of a Latino. When I got a glimmer of that possibility, it felt exciting.”

“Drummy” launches J.R.C.G. beyond the sound of the project’s 2021 debut, Ajo Sunshine, marrying that album’s noisy experimentalism to a newfound focus on rhythm. “It was the first song I wrote for Grim Iconic. To me, it’s the very next scene after the last album closes. ‘Drummy’ married the two approaches and pushed it into this next sequence of songs.” Fascinating amalgams of visceral rhythms and incandescent noise permeate Grim Iconic... (Sadistic Mantra), from the looping hand drums of "34" to the Funhouse-meets-Tropicália blasts of "World i.” It all embraces a sense of freedom while facing modernism.

“Dogear” is a face-melting party starter that sounds like someone forced Talking Heads and Rudimentary Peni to share a practice space. “I wanted a song that felt playful in the way it attempted to be dissonant without taking itself too seriously,” Gallego says. “Cholla Beat” is even more ambitious, an anthemic mix of WAR and Wire led by unruly synthesizers spiraling down a labyrinth of production.

Gallego’s influences for the album are vast, ranging from British documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis to electric Miles Davis to audio miscreants like Demdike Stare and Oneohtrix Point Never. But it’s Gallego’s assured sonic vision that resounds the loudest. And, while J.R.C.G. is a solo project, conceived and executed primarily in Gallego’s home studio, he found strength in opening the project to others, starting with Seth Manchester as co-producer. Manchester’s penchant for bone-rattling frequencies, as seen in his production work with The Body, Battles, and Mdou Moctar, made him a natural fit for Gallego. Together, they retained the intimacy of Gallego’s home recordings while taking advantage of the hi-fi stylings of his Machines With Magnets Studio in Rhode Island. The closing song, “World i,” offers a glimpse into the live experience of Grim Iconic...(Sadistic Mantra), with upwards of seven band members blasting off. The album features a fascinating mix of supporting players, many of whom cycle through J.R.C.G.’s live lineup: Morgan Henderson (The Blood Brothers, Fleet Foxes), Jason Clackley (Dreamdecay, The Exquisites), Jon Scheid (Dreamdecay, U Sco), Erica Miller (Casual Hex, Big Bite), Veronica Dye (Terminator) Phil Cleary (U Sco), and Alex Gaziano (Dreamdecay, Kidcrash, Science Amplification).

Taken as a whole, G.I.S.M. is a whirlwind of sound, pummeling, and cleansing. It’s a sweaty, thrilling aural adventure and, like a great basement show, it’ll leave you breathless, exhausted, and wanting to repeat it all over again. As any good mantra should.

Digital Tracklist

  1. 1 Grim Iconic 0:42
  2. 2 34 4:34
  3. 3 Dogear 5:23
  4. 4 Drummy 2:53
  5. 5 Liv 5:51
  6. 6 Party People (Heaven) 2:14
  7. 7 Junk Corrido 6:10
  8. 8 Cholla Beat 5:18
  9. 9 World i 6:38
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