Opening with a riff reminiscent of “Clash City Rockers,” Tyvek’s “Tip to Tail” will be the most melodic the Detroit band will be for the duration of their latest for In the Red Records, Origin of What. As the record progresses, the ever-changing band bashes out song after song on the LP’s first side, which fuzz and feed back in myriad forms. Be it the rather traditional punk feel of the first two songs, or the herky-jerky stop-and-start of “Girl on a Bicycle,” Tyvek gives the listener an array of songs which — despite their lo-fi aspects and outwardly crude construction — manage to lodge melodies in the mind.
As the record progresses, melody becomes more of an abstract, beginning with “Gridlock,” which then moves into jangled and feverish “Mirror Image Of,” a song which seems intent on demolishing itself with deadpan vocal delivery and a dissonant wave of feedback bent on overtaking everything. Given that the song itself is about destroying the mirror image of something, one can maybe imply that Tyvek’s aiming to destroy its inverse — namely, traditionally subversive music, which at its heart is essentially sped-up Chuck Berry riffs.
The second side, though: man. Wow. Think of it as one long piece with a series of suites. Upon first listen, Origin of What’s flipside is anti-structure and melody. While it may seem like “Into the Outlets” is a compliment to “Tip to Tail,” it’s a bashed-out rocker which fuzzes out nearly as soon as it’s begun. Then, we’re into the title track, which stomps along and winds out a buzzing guitar line into echoing, dub-like vocals. It’s Pere Ubu by way of Black Ark Studios, and it’s utterly hypnotic. One gets the impression that live, this could go on forever, exploring every facet of the very basic structure underneath.
“Real Estate & Finance” provides a break of sorts by working a hip-shaking take on the repetitiveness of something like the Exploited’s “Sex & Violence.” And backed with “Choose Once,” it feels like you’re going to maybe end Origin of What on more standard footing. Such is not the case, however — “Tyvek Chant” might as well have been recorded coming out of a transistor radio on the other side of the room, and it’s absolutely nasty. The beauty of the final song, “Underwater 3,” is made all the more lovely for it, though. Short as it is, the song manages to be both melodic and dissonant, and ends Origin of What with a humming fade-out, leaving you wanting more.
For what’s at heart a fuzzy, garage record, Origin of What is surprisingly robust. The production doesn’t bury anything accidentally, and for all the effects pedals through which I’m sure Tyvek ran everything, the tones are there to be heard, and cranking this loud doesn’t hurt anything. If anything, this is a record meant to be blasted all the way through.
There’s a printed inner sleeve where artwork continues the postal theme of the jacket, meaning this was one well thought-out package. It’s not a lot in terms of fancy — no embossing or foil or anything like that — but everything fits together so well; it’s really a joy.
The record comes on standard black or limited-edition yellow marble, which nicely compliments the sleeve. There’s also a download card for the album.
Origin of What is available from In the Red Records.