What's to be made of Child Bite, a frantically energetic fivesome of (mostly) bearded young men who seem to revel in translating chaos, both onstage and on record? The evidence that Shawn Knight (vocals, synth, guitar, noise, etc.), Zach Norton (guitar), Danny Sperry (drums), Sean Clancy (bass) and Christian Doble (sax, clarinet, etc.) have laid out on their latest full-length, Fantastic Gusts of Blood, is that there's more than one way to skin rock 'n' roll and several dozen different ways to let it bleed.
It seems (to this critic, at least) that Child Bite can best be understood not as an old-fashioned rock gang but as a new-fashioned, DIY and multimedia-savvy, networked rock tribe. That is, a conglomeration of like-minded fringe dwellers that has rallied around a collective center or a bonfire of cultural associations, both sonically and culturally. In this context, it makes sense that the cover art and lyrical content of Fantastic Gusts of Blood hints toward a self-made cryptic mythology. Dig those hand-scratched tableaux of dogs eating the entrails of prone humans that are strewn across the CD sleeve and the CD itself. Or the drawings of naked, bearded men and their women running through space. Or mutant, hybrid creatures overlooking the bacchanal of humanity's so-called civilization. Song titles like "White Bull From the Sea," "Never Ending Mountain Slammer" and "Banana Gorgon," only hint at the recontextualizing of modern paranoia and shared manic energy to which the Child Bite tribe gives voice and noise.
But what about the sounds, you ask? Well, Knight's voice rings out like a more freaked-out version of Pere Ubu's David Thomas, from a mixed-up corpus callosum to a place high up in the nasal cavity. He delivers those sounds through his belly to an open microphone, offering up a free association stream of dada conjuring. And although there's a surface-y fuck-it-all, kitchen sink blast to the music, underneath it all, there's a steady rhythmic pulse as well as guitar and synth lines that bang into one another to dynamic effect. And they do this as often as they ride roughshod together over a frantic beat that recalls (again!) Pere Ubu and such other touch points as the Residents, Boredoms, Brainiac and the no-wave-y noiseniks' simultaneous disdain for simple pop and embrace of its hooks for their own ends.
Yes, it's heavy. And, yes, it's best swallowed in small doses. And, yes, with rests in between, it will carry you away if you simply let it. Yes, Child Bite exists in its own space-time continuum and, yes, there's ultimately no rest for the weird.
Chris Handyside writes about music for the Metro Times. E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org.