Soft Erase

by Metal Rouge

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about

'Soft Erase' took almost two years to make from conception to completion, not because we were fidgeting with tiny compositional details (like most of our work almost every track was done in one live take), but rather because those two years seemed to be filled with 4 years worth of life events. The tracks were originally hashed out in a sweltering garage and various pay-by-the-hour practice spaces in the San Fernando Valley, starting off as shoe-gazey dirges and eventually cooling down into thicker tighter punkish structures. We recorded every single take of this two year process, most of it not terribly well. What made it onto the album were the only successful full-length takes - many takes were sabotaged by the tape running out as the drum machine had us marching into infinity. These takes were about mid- way through the two year process - not quite congealed yet. This is the only Metal Rouge album to feature a drum machine. Our models for drum programming were Porter Ricks and Suicide.

In April 2011 an event occurred that provided the conceptual framework for the album and spurred us to finish it. The Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles held an show of graffiti/street artists called 'Art In The Streets' curated by MOCA's newly appointed director Jeffery Deitch. With an MBA from Harvard, a resume that included a stint as the manager of the 'art finance' department at Citibank and metric fuck-ton of personal wealth Jeffery Deitch was/is everything that's wrong with the contemporary art world. Italian street-artist Blu had been invited to paint a mural on the massive side wall of MOCA's downtown location. He did, covering the wall with coffins draped in US $1 bills. Within 24 hours Deitch had the wall whitewashed and asked Blu to paint something less provocative. Blu refused. Deitch then asked Blu to publicly agree with MOCA's decision to whitewash the mural. Blu statement on this was: "It is censorship that almost turned into self-censorship when they asked me to openly agree with their decision to erase the wall. In the Soviet Union they were calling it 'self-criticism." Shepard Fairey, whose work was showing at the show weighed in on MOCA's side like the tool he is. I won't go into Deitch's reasons for censoring what is essentially quite a tame piece of political commentary because his reasoning is erroneous and I don' want to waste a drop of virtual ink perpetuating that cultural assassin for the aristocracies asinine nonsense. That the monied elite is sensitive to minor feather-ruffling when it comes to openly discussing where and how money is being made in late-capitalism came as no shock to us - what was rather more alarming was the lack of concern about this event among those we knew in the arts community. The largest contemporary arts institution in one of the most liberal states in the country immediately censored a piece of mildly political art within 24 hours of it going up - alarm bells should be ringing - where exactly are we at as a culture when something like this happens and young artists yawn? Helga and I attended a graduate show at Calarts and were talking to some artists about the situation and were hurriedly shushed because someone 'important' who worked for MOCA had entered the room. It became increasingly clear to me that few young artists with no market leverage would openly criticize Jeffery Deitch. No one was willing to bite the hand that one day may potentially feed them. It seemed to me that most young artists were willing to be on the ideological payroll of whoever or whatever the current power broker in the art world is. A career in art seemed about as honorable as a career in banking. Maybe less so, as at least in banking the motivations are made clear. So we contacted Blu and asked him if we could use an image of his censored mural as the cover for the album. He said sure. He also turned down payment and copies of the record. We searched for a hi-res photo of the mural to use for the cover for months to no avail. We tried to license a few photos that had been taken by the press, but once the photographers caught wind of the critical angle of the project they wouldn't return our emails. Finally we had to make do with modifying and abstracting an image.

This is probably our angriest album. We were stifled by Los Angeles and pissed at the art world. We were frustrated at watching musicians die of information poisoning as the whole of the US underground seemed to morph into a sickly sweet cloud of post-hypnogognic/new-age/vapour-wave that was about as heartfelt as the infotainment jingles it was aping. We were tired of irony, tired of meta-everything, tired of distancing mechanisms... And this is what came out of it. Not a perfect album by any means, very sketchy and rough, but it was a gut response and in that respect it was as Neil Young would say 'real as the day is long'....

Sean McCann patiently helped us mix it. Giles Miller is multi-tracked blindly and slightly out of synch on 'White Cube Graffiti' on alto sax. I think both of them were surprised at our laissez faire attitude towards technical know-how. It was mastered by James Plotkin. 'When Will The Blues Leave' is an Ornette Coleman song. We didn't cover it, we just stole the title... - Andrew

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released June 6, 2013

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Metal Rouge Los Angeles, California

Punk, in the spiritual sense of the term.

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