Hissing Tiles' Boychoir sounds like the horror punk cousin of Scott Walker's Bish Bosch. It's chock-full of experimentation and vocal eccentricity. Barer than any of Walker's work, it replaces lush string arrangements with angular guitar melodies and fizzes of noise.
The melodies themselves are catchy in an unhinged, Mr Bungle-esque way. They transport you to the coconut shie of some nightmarish carnival. 'Nightflood' contains a phrase that sounds like chattering dolphins, or shoes slipping on wet lino. But the release isn't whacked-out or impenetrable. Any experimentation is in service of the text, and incorporated elegantly.
Boychoir makes some valiant stabs at discussing gender politics and gender policing. Masculinity is positioned as an intrusive presence in an otherwise balanced world. It's an obligation to be fulfilled, a role to play. And when masculinity arrives, it carries all its associated language and horrors. It must be with some self-consciousnesses the artists chose a rock group — one of the most stereotypically masculine forms — to try and undermine such roles. Though their explorations are all too welcome, unconventional and well-considered for this to work against them.
This is a release which probes into uncomfortable areas and asks difficult questions. It's supported by bizarre noise elements and spirited performances from every member of the band. More than worth its weight in time, this should earn a few spins from any listener.
Boychoir is available for pre-order here. You can also stream the album’s first single.
Words by Andrew O’Keefe