Trash Town Rock - Ace Killers Union (Hurtin’ Records)
“Noise annoys,” said the Buzzcocks and although they took a more melodic bent than most of their contemporaries, you knew what they were on about. “Ugly music for ugly people” was the apt review tagline for the self-titled Kim Salmon and the Scientists album, many years ago.
This confronting record from electro-punk duo Ace Killers Union is a bit of both. If their music doesn’t make a mark, stick in your craw or drive you to reach for a stiff glass of Suntory whisky after a couple of listens, you’re just not paying attention.
Ace Killers Union - ACU for short - is Hiroshi The Golden Arm and Mr Ratboy with their guitars and a whole slew of machines. From the impossibly fast title track and opener to the low-fidelity, speed pulse-attack of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (yes, that one) this is an abrasive melange of noisy, gutter rock skronk.
Hiroshi The Golden Arm is a Japanese noise merchant whose Thunderesque The Golden Arms were savagely great and championed by the Vicious Kitten and Australian Rock Show podcast boys, Colin and Denis, and seemingly few others. That’s the thing with underground Japanese music - it’s highly fragmented and you have to be in the know to catch something great..
The other half of ACU is Mr Ratboy, a Swiss-born guitarist who’s played with Marky Ramone and the Intruders, Sour Jazz, Jeff Dahl and Motorcycle Boy. He seems to have embedded himself in rock and roll scenes from LA to Manhattan to Tokyo, hence the natural fit with Hiroshi The Golden Arm.
The ACU formula is deceptively simple, the execution complicated: Pick a machine rhythm, punch in snatches of background dissonance from film soundtracks and and weave alternately spidery lines or near impenetrable walls of guitars. Hiroshi The Golden Arm’s guttural or stealthy vocals and washes of keys or sythesised bass complete the picture. Drone and dissonance abound.
“Hagakure Suicide” sounds like Dee Dee’s “The Crusher” put through a mixmaster before a bunch of Burroughs-style audio cut-ups are dropped in. “Guns of the Wild West” builds a sonic wall from a trumpet intro.
There’s no mistaking the Made on the Loser East Side blare of the guitar on “Prisoner In The Jungle” or the “Zombie Birdhouse” whiff of “No Salvation”. ACU's music has a parallel with the last-phase Scientists/early Surrealists in its embracing of lo-fi electronics. If any of those are a reference point, you will find something relatable.
Equal parts Suicide and Pistols, it’s an anarchic brew that draws you in, repels and confuses all at the same time. Dance floor world domination isn’t out of the question. “Trash Town Rock” might overcome any underlying biases against drum machines.