My introduction to Oakland’s Noothgrush came in 2011 via Southern Lord’s The Power of the Riff tour, a limited run of west coast dates that marked the band’s return after splitting up in 2001 (and their first show in Seattle since 1997). What I wrote about that show (here) was my best effort to explain the impact of the music:
“Imagine this: You’re chained in an iron receptacle, and through vents in the bottom, hot paving tar slowly flows in. Inexorably, at a glacial pace, it covers your feet, it climbs up your legs, it reaches and passes the part of your body that does all the thinking, it covers your abdomen and your chest, your arms strain at their chains and you scream as the tar boils the flesh away until it reaches the empty cavity on top of your shoulders and pours into your ears, mouth, and nose, suffocating you in a blistering black agony. Your last sensations are the smell of your own incinerating flesh and the shrieking chants of this band’s vocalist…. Sick, sloooooow, sludgy, and ultimately irresistible.”
Pelican, who performed later the same night, posted this on their Facebook page right about the time Noothgrush finished their set: “Good lord, Noothgrush are heavier than a knapsack full of anvils.”
Hell yes they were.
photo by Alberto Gutierrez
I next encountered their music in a 2013 split they did with Japan’s Coffins, which I reviewed here. Last year they released a two-song EP named entropy that I managed to completely miss at the time of its release. I discovered its existence when I started mentally preparing to hear them at Portland’s Famine Fest in February — only to miss the chance when Noothgrush canceled their appearance after their touring partners Coffins had to cancel as a result of visa problems.
This Rearview Mirror post gives me a chance to make amends for missing out on entropy last year. It also gives me a chance to stream the opening track from their 1999 debut album Erode the Person, which is a damned accurate description of what the song does to you. (Yes, I did eventually start dabbling in the band’s extensive pre-2001 discography.)
P.S. If you never bothered to search out where Noothgrush got their name, here’s the explanation, from this interview (which includes an actual picture of a noothgrush):
“A Noothgrush is this little prismatic stoner imp who takes over your toothbrush. That’s according to Dr. Seuss. I’ve never actually seen one, and Seuss is too deceased to elaborate on his encounter.”
The extended metaphor really does pan out. These dudes are inconceivably heavy. Really hope they tour outside of the Pacific Northwest sometime.