Turn to Crime exists within its own pocket universe amid the Detroit music scene. Whereas some are beholden to the almost institutional credo of “loud fast rules” while others subscribe to the orthodoxy of established local genres like techno or garage rock, Turn to Crime stubbornly burrow through the ice cracked concrete to mine its own form of sonic magma. Turn to Crime is the singular product of Derek Stanton recorded in his studio and put out on his label. It’s a true example of D.I.Y. and a sui generis recording project that extrudes pop forms through an avant-garde dye.
Recorded over the last year in his basement studio in Detroit’s Southwest, Molten Sound, and released on Stanton’s label Mugg & Bopp, Turn To Crime’s newest Actions is a continuation of 2014’s critically acclaimed debut Can’t Love. That previous album’s tone, which Uncut Magazine called, “kosmische, post-punk and lo-fi electronic noise” that “keeps its sights on the pop hook” is present on Actions but taken to new heights of maximal minimalism. Akin to the more “out-there” eras of a Bowie and Lou Reed, or perhaps a less “out-there” Gary Wilson, Actions takes the raw materials of a pop tune (repetition and hooks) and atomizes them. Unique guitar tunings bump up against minimal electronics while sweetly sung harmonies ricochet in caverns of tape decay.
Opener “This Is What You Wanted”, sounds like the sun rising over a strange planet. The song “Actions” is a stately-paced rumination on the less savory aspects of living in a supposed New Detroit with a matter-of-fact exhortation to “cut off your hands”, while it’s counterpoint “Prince of Slackers” bops like a classic rock song on klonopin – Tom Petty with weird angles and his buckteeth sharpened into fangs. Like Can’t Love‘s widescreen closer (“I Can’t Not Love”), “Feels Right” unfolds like the epic closing song from some wrongfully forgotten 1980’s film. With its sawing synths and skyscraping guitars, “Feels Right” perfectly concludes an album that, over its seven songs, truly feels like a journey. From the ambient opening through the last echoed chords,the seemingly lost art of an album as a complete statement is in full bloom here.
Often with these types of mad genius basement symphonies, the compositions are too studio bound or the genius too mad to recreate in a live setting. With Turn to Crime, Stanton has a willing retinue including local musicians Ian Saylor and Dorian Foerg. This live band is able to both capture the singular beauty ofActions and to experiment with its unique architecture. Now, with two exceptional albums in as many years, Turn to Crime has a formidable battery of songs to soundtrack your next brain melt.
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