Blue Sausage Infant (where did they dig up that name?!) have released an impressive number of albums (some of the more imaginative titles include Captain Smooth Wants You, Locust Hit The Ground Screaming, Confessions of a Rogue Taxidermist and Negative Space, the latter reviewed in Aural Innovations #43 in 2011) in the course of a career spanning more than two decades. BSI is basically Chester Hawkins on a variety of instruments including synths, oscillators, bass, lap steel, rhythm machines, guitar, voice, wood flute, zither, ukulele, edits and toys. Hawkins also employs a number of guest musicians including members of Insect Factory, Pilesar, Violet, Tag Cloud and Jimmy Sells His Soul. A previous collaborator was Michael Shanahan of Reanimation, on whose 2011 album Giants Hide Among Us Hawkins provides electronics and appropriations.
Although hailing from Washington DC, the sounds of Blue Sausage Infant are drenched in kosmische musik, with Hawkins name-checking early krautrockers Cluster as a primary influence, as can be heard particularly on the multi-layered synths of Yggdrasil, which stretches across nine minutes. The gentle atmospheres contained herein are in stark contrast to the brutalist industrial stylings of Hosebag, which momentarily comes to a complete stop to make way for a perverse sample about the desires that follow on from physical attraction, before resuming its militaristic stomp. Meanwhile, The Moss Takes Over (a remake of a BSI track originally recorded in 1990) comes across a bit like the space-metallic grind of Farflung, featuring guitars by Daniel Euphrat and real drums by Jason Mullinax (who is also credited with “playing” fire extinguisher). The harsh and jarring Aphid’s Lament brings to the mind the beat-free electronic experiments of Throbbing Gristle, and album opener Afflicted By The Wind Disease sounds a bit like Faust (the band) playing ukuleles. Sodom Is Risen is a return to the metal grind of The Moss Takes Over, minus the drums, and with Hawkins playing all the instruments himself. Catocitin again features Mullinax on drums, and the glissando guitar of Jeff Barsky (or perhaps Hawkins’ lap steel), which gives the track a spacey Gong flavour. While last year’s Negative Space featured side-long tracks, much of Manitou is more concise, with only album closer Abdominal Frost breaking the ten minute mark. A truly deep space excursion, it features bells, gongs and beer glasses courtesy of Chris Videll coupled with foreboding synthesizer drones straight out of the early T-Dream book, and into the void.
While having limited appeal to fans of the more conventional (if such a word can even be used) stylings of spacerock, Manitou has much to offer in the way of variety, and would appeal to those keen on exploring the deeper and harsher corners of the industrial kosmiche universe.
Reviewed by Pat Albertson