Bootstrappers released their eponymous debut in 1989. At this moment in time, Bootstrappers consisted of Elliott Sharp and the then fIREHOSE rhythm section of Mike Watt and George Hurley. Now consisting of Elliot Sharp, Melvin Gibbs and Don McKenzie, Boostrappers have released their third album, namely Xenolith.
'Xenolith' is a portmanteau of the prefix 'xeno-' concerning that which is foreign and the suffix '-lith,' referring to types of stone. 'Xenolith,' then, means 'foreign stone.' Supposing that we substitute 'stone' for one of its common synonyms, 'xenolith' means 'foreign rock.' And, befitting of the meaning of its name, Xenolith houses other-worldly sounds which glow green and have limbs sprouting from all sorts of bizarre areas. (Maybe this should not be surprising; Bootstrappers do advertise themselves as "a self-organizing sonic system from nothing. The seed is the impulse, the mechanism is improvisation").
The album starts with "Telentelechy", where harsh and almost atonal guitar slides are underscored by vociferous rhythmic flurries. This discordance, though, is not an ever-present feature. The mid-section of this song is signified by dazzling riffs which unfurl themselves before the listener to reveal their glowing cores. That said, old habits die hard; the ending of "Telentelechy" mimics its beginning. A gelatinous rhythmic sludge slowly swallows each instrument, and those that remain shriek in an attempt to escape.
"This Magnetic Moment" kicks off with intermittent hums that give way to swarms of vibrato-ladened arpeggios. And, after this, there are guitar licks which are tapped so ferociously that they sound like the digital background noise you would expect to hear in the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.
In "Harmolaila" there are stochastically plucked bass sequences and arrhythmic percussive jerks. After some effort, this aleatoric playing is focused such that grooves metastasize: glistening guitar loops are intertwined with adroit bass-lines, and every now and again chords sputter as they search to find their place in this sonic system. However, as with all things, this order becomes disturbed as some effervescent rhythms engender sets of spitting guitar sequences.
"Lo Shu" boasts crawling, sprawling bass-lines that hug the floor like some noxious miasma. And, all the while, hushed drums dart around so as to avoid being poisoned. As the song begins to succumb to its old age, the established groove slowly decays; each of its limbs twitch violently as they rot and subsequently become detached.
Xenolith is foreign rock by both name and nature. But Bootstrappers say of themselves that their future iterations may "expand to orchestral dimensions." So, relish this musical moment; it may be the last.
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