Music » Music Feature

Land of Distortion

Roué rattles the walls with its musical squalls.


Singer-guitarist Justin Coulter fronts an electrical storm that drenches the audience in viscous sheets of white noise. The songs -- insofar as you could call them that -- billow in fast-cycling waves of feedback that build to the force of a passing locomotive, throwing you onto your back foot.

Wearing a "Surf Naked" T-shirt, Coulter slings his guitar and long hair from side to side, his body bowing to the music. He stands over a military formation of 12 effects pedals, which he distractedly taps as he shapes the raw thunder. Behind him, the bassist's long black curls hide his face, and the drummer puts his head down as the rhythm swells.

The quartet engages in a tense discourse between melody and dissonance reminiscent of the Fall and My Bloody Valentine. While aggressive, the overall effect is also hypnotic. The crowd responds to the sonic ebb and flow, drawing closer to the band as the song builds, pulling back for climactic explosions of sound.

The songs don't have a traditional beginning, middle, and end so much as a presence. There are occasional lyrics, but Coulter's droll vocal delivery is all but lost in the choppy sea of distortion. Then Roué will shift gears and sculpt sinewy, roughly hewn chunks of post-punk guitar reminiscent of Fugazi. But even those soon devolve into throttling noise fests.

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