Adversary seems an unusual name for a husband and wife team, but Rachel and Grant Evans make it work. Their latest batch of cassettes includes one release by each (Rachel recording as Motion Sickness of Time Travel) and one recorded together as Quiet Evenings. This seems like a healthy template for a relationship.
This being said, we’re about to focus on Grant’s Ergot Dogs. We don’t want to start any fights for bragging rights, so we’ll simply say that those who prefer calm, soothing music should skip these words, go right to the link below, and jump over to Rachel’s The Circuit. And those who prefer the loud and abrasive should stay here. It’s tempting to say something about gender issues, genetics and stereotyping, but to stay safe we’ll let our reviewers jump to whatever conclusions they’d like.
Ergot Dogs is scruffy and rough, but in a good way, like an abandoned factory or rescue dog. The music sounds like machinery struggling to work, which in “Red & Yellow” includes rusty swings and hints of musique concrete. Rummaging, rustling and raking his way through unnamed debris, Grant finds all manner of treasure; late in the piece, one hears an actual dog or a person imitating one. “In the Water” offers copper wire, static shock and aging hull, a cornucopia that culminates later in “A Broken Pier”. The artist finds beauty in the broken, and if it’s not broken, he breaks it. It’s no surprise that his last album before Adversary was called Brittle.
But wait, let’s not forget about Rachel. This is a love story, after all, and with track titles such as “Her Wand”, “Her Smile”, “Her Hand” and “Her Side”, it seems something else may be in play. The child that speaks in “Her Smile” is an indication of a lighter, gentler side, a reminder of family and the fun fact that children like to break things too. In all that poking around, there’s also a search for souvenirs, sonic and otherwise: something to break home, if it’s portable, and to bring others to see, if it’s not.
We doubt that Grant and Rachel live in the boarded-up house on the cover. It’s more likely a place they have visited. If “In Us Confide” seems like a seance, it also seems like a group outing, a spirit speaking backwards while normal conversation goes on around him. Clearly annoyed, the spirit starts banging around, offering an outburst of bass and a rush of wind in response to the words, “preparing for the end of the world.” THIS IS THE END OF THE WORLD! YOU WILL NOT IGNORE ME!!! But ultimately, they do. They go on with their lives. They take a photo of the house, and put it on a tape. So maybe it’s like The Ring. But maybe it’s more about the rings on the hands. Love conquers all. On the last track, the dogs howl in abject joy. (Richard Allen)