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Painted Faces - Normal Street (ESP-Disk’)

24 April 2023

Solo musician David Drucker released a slew of homemade cassettes, CD-rs, and actual CDs as Painted Faces for a decade or so before hitting the big (?) time with ESP-Disk’. Normal Street, his latest LP, continues his journey into the heart of American primitivism and the lowest of low-fi. With what seems to be little money but a lot of imagination (plus, one suspects, a handful of Jandek records), Drucker wanders aimlessly but happily through tape manipulative zaniness (the title track), dark electro-ambience (“Laughing Charlie,” “Paranoid Dollhouse”), pure noise (“Cult of the Ghost Shark”), and some actual songcraft (“Watching Tremors 2 at Work,” “Forest Techno”), even if it’s buried under questionable intent. There’s some pretty chord changes, maybe even a melody, in “Contact Mind,” but don’t worry – it’s not enough to dispel the off-putting spell Drucker attempts to cast here. Closing cut “Xea” just throws everything into a blender set to “puree.” Even if you think he’s merely having a good time screwing up his recording gear, there’s that primal shrek album cover to trigger some nightmares. If this Normal Street is where Drucker lives, good luck to him.