Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing’s genre-bending sonic ambulations are, for ease of description, perhaps best loosely termed as folk/no-wave. Yet ultimately they aren’t so easy to define. The group’s sound is both disease and panacea for the faintest of hearts, a desperately melodic sensibility shrouded in dour difficulty; sugar syrup spiked.
The acclaimed (and now sold-out) 2015 LP Scrying in Infirmary Architecture shook a new element of shine into the band’s sewer-dwelling sound, Pelican Magazine stating that the record “treads the boundaries between the material and the mystic with the same elegance that it balances melody and discord, and in its harmony it might just be a masterpiece”.
An amalgam of members past and present have contributed to what might be Girls Pissing On Girls Pissing’s magnum opus: the double-album Songs of Sodomy & The Compost of Aethyr. The international and local sprawl of band members sees a fluidity of personnel; this is not received or expressed as obstructive. Where gaps emerge the light leaks in, out of cracks and corners weeds persist; the group’s widening wingspan only promises further flight.
A conceptual record drawing on the breadth and depth of such a volume of music, the record harks back to an era of epic double LPs, while flouting the material production of vinyl in favour of something more divine – a limited-edition hand-painted tarot deck illustrated and designed by GPOGP. A special-edition laser-cut wooden box is even available for a lucky few.
The figures of the tarot are considered and involved in the album’s make-up – allowing listeners who seek to explore the music’s Enochian aspects to do so, meanwhile welcoming all to remain beguiled by the aesthetic sprawl splayed out for dissection. The image of the Tower (card XVI in the Major Arcana) is something of a cornerstone. An illustration of the Tower by GPOGP’s Casey Latimer featured on the album Scrying in Infirmary Architecture, and Songs of Sodomy & The Compost of Aethyr hints constantly at the structural freedom glyph in both form and content. Opening track Sweet XVI is based on Coral Castle (the oolite limestone tower built by a Latvian eccentric for his teenage love), following tracks detail various ways in which a structure can be dressed up, fractured, collapsed, and ultimately recalibrated – culminating in the ceremonial requiem Tenebrae, exploring the Roman Catholic ritual of extinguishing candles one by one, to be then plunged into darkness.
The album was produced according to a rule of halves, that being that roughly half of each track is comprised of live elements (recorded partially in Auckland’s Wine Cellar by Rohan Evans), the remainder up for patient experimentation and refiguring at the group’s home/rehearsal space. It was then sent off to the band’s now longtime Brussels-based collaborator Remi Salvador for mastering.
It’s beside the point to try and describe what the 16 songs between the open and close Songs of Sodomy & The Compost of Aethyr sound like; spanning love songs, dirges, ballads, scathing reprimands, backwards pop hits and hypnotic segues. The record is perhaps best written as having a life of its own, transmuting constantly from shit into gold, a careful balance of momentary presence and psychotic transcendence, always looking for new ears.