I’ve said it before many times in various writeups I’ve done on both here and Fucked By Noise, but it bears repeating: Philadelphia, PA has one of the most interesting scenes in North America (and arguably in the world). The subject of this particular writeup, DIALER, is definitely a band who fit in perfectly with that general trend. But, they are far from trendy.
A little history: DIALER rose from the ashes of a art/synthpunk band called RABIES SHOT, who released one tape before their demise, and who I got to see perform once when they played the not-so-infamous midnight guerilla bridge show with HUMANSHAPES (now defunct) and BLOATED SUBHUMANS in summer 2016. Roughly a year later, when I asked the members I knew in RABIES SHOT to play with BLOATED SUBHUMANS again – this time on a bill with Chicago, IL synthpunk monsters PLASTIC – I was told of their demise and of the newly formed band who were doing similar things. Without getting too much into it here, both bands were killer, but after having listened to and played with both (not to mention the recent addition of a new singer) I have to say that DIALER is by far the superior of the two.
So, regardless of that brief and not-so-comprehensive timeline, you might be wondering what DIALER actually sounds like. The short version is that they resemble what you might imagine it would sound like if 80s industrial/noise rock pioneers BIG BLACK and NERVOUS GENDER teamed up with 90s post-hardcore (and…wait for it…“emotive hardcore”) legends ANTIOCH ARROW and MAXIMILLIAN COLBY.
What that means in actual words is that DIALER plays a chaotic conglomeration of oddly constructed structures comprised of wretchedly pulsing and swirling synth, strangulated trebly guitar juxtaposed with the bass’s rumbling low end, screeching saxophone from hell, and vocals hoarsely screamed and yelled through a tin can, all overtop of punchy, unpredictable programmed drums. With these tools, they create strange sonic abominations that not only will capture your interest, but will also keep your attention until the end. With just three strangely (and refreshingly) diverse tracks, DIALER covers a lot of ground, but that should not come as much of a surprise based on the previous comparisons. This tape is definitely worth at least one listen from start to finish (I wouldn’t be writing about it otherwise) – it hits like a truck and is over before you even know it.
And you’re going to want more.
For those of you like me who feel as if most of the synthpunk/post-punk/etc coming out in the last couple years has felt pretty stale, formulaic, and disingenuously/performatively “weird,” this might give you the kick in the ass you’ve been looking for.