Home Hear Albums Of The Week: Bangladeafy | Vulture

Albums Of The Week: Bangladeafy | Vulture

The N.Y.C. duo continue to evolve into a cyborg entity with a relentlessly heavy disc.

Bangladeafy pick over the rotted carcass of synth-punk and pluck the tastiest morsels to vomit back into your gaping, bird-brained maw on their fierce and fearsome new album Vulture — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

The N.Y.C. duo’s sixth release — and fifth for Nefarious Industries — finds them simultaneously evolving into a futuristic new cyborg hybrid entity while simultaneously and ruthlessly stripping every ounce of fat from the bones of their songcraft. How do they do it? Volume — along with plenty of synthesizers that sit atop a walloping wall-of-sound constructed from short, sharp shots of shape-shifting, full-throttle rhythmic intensity. With 15 tracks that blast past in little more than 24 minutes, Vulture is a sonically / emotionally / universally heavy album that constantly has you off balance and on your toes, struggling to keep up as it scrambles your senses, lays waste to your expectations and leaves you confused, anxious and wondering what the hell just went down.

Well, here’s where it all started: Back in 2016, this bass-and-drum pair created a complex, unrelenting heavy sound oft likened to Lightning Bolt and Melvins. Fair dinkum. In those early years, the duo Jon Ehlers and Atif Haq pounded out dizzying prog-punk compositions, using every other band’s rhythm section as their weapons of choice. Haq’s relentless, mercurial rhythms melded with Ehlers’ four-string maximalism in songs that hypnotized whilst teetering on the edge of total breakdown.

Separating this singular outfit even further from the crowd was the fact of Ehlers’ sensorineural hearing loss, a condition which requires him to use hearing aids. He states: “I’ve certainly faced criticism, or murmurings that I might not have what it takes to hang with the big dogs, so to speak, because there’s a limit to what a hearing disabled musician might be able to do. If anything, I feel that I’ve proved myself and have worked harder to get there.”

But just where the hell is there, you ask? It’s like this: Over the course of Bangladeafy’s first five releases, synths have been gradually introduced into the arsenal, with 2020’s Housefly marking a tipping point. With the duo name-dropping Devo, Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails as influences, Housefly showcases an exhilarating union of human and electronic elements: Ehlers’ synths alternate between smothering tension and angelic bliss, and his vocals are delivered with wild-eyed urgency, with Haq’s nonstop drumming echoing the manic episodes of octopi like Brian Chippendale and Damon Che.

Now in 2024, Vulture sees Bangladeafy hurtling further in this direction. “Vulture is the crossroads of organic and electronic expression,” declares Ehlers. “Instead of choosing a path, we chose to drive straight through the cornfield and hope for the best.”

Crediting the likes of Dan Deacon, and Uganda’s Nihiloxica for inspiration, Ehlers reveals the process behind the making of Vulture, illustrating clearly the interplay of nature and machine: “All synth sounds were created on a Yamaha MODX6. Sampler stabs were shaped from various manipulated sources, such as field recordings of bees and counter-rocket systems used in war. Said samples were pitched to match the song and mangled in various ways. The drums were all played live and recorded on a Yamaha kit with no click.”

Ehlers explains that, as much as Vulture represents the new direction, it is also a return to roots. “Vulture is the sound of Bangladeafy settling into our purest form,” he states. “When Atif and I were young, our first jam had me on a Roland synth. The very first time we got into a room together, it was something of a synth-punk persuasion, way back in late 2006. As time went on, our individual skills as a bassist and drummer took off and Bangladeafy was officially formed in 2009. That youthful display of bass and drum acrobatics can be heard on our early albums. Once Ribboncutter had been released in 2018, I felt I personally had said all I needed to say on the bass guitar. My true passion has always been synthesizers.”

At just over two minutes in length, Vulture’s first single Beautification is an instantly infectious burst of vivid color, located somewhere between the anxiety of The Locust and the euphoria of Torche. Beautification is, in fact, one of the longest tracks on the album; Vulture’s songs create maximum impact in minimum time.

While Bangladeafy’s sound is evolving, so are the lyrics. “We used to have silly songs with chants about bedbugs and witches,” says Ehlers. “The lyrics on Vulture reflect my personal experiences. Betrayals, let-downs, and the clarity that comes with age. The transformative effects of age and experience — the loss of innocence — is a theme that pervades the album. Each song has its own story that fits under this umbrella.” Regarding the single Beautification, he states: “This song is about fleeting innocence, fleeting security. The line between stability and poverty, or life and death, is very thin.”

Walk the line by listening to Vulture and watching Bangladeafy’s videos below, then follow them on Instagram and Facebook if you think you can handle it (Spoiler alert: You probably can’t).”