Chokebore - Anything Near Water

With intro and outro tracks both entitled "Dust", Anything Near Water comes on like an oasis, dripping cryptic poetic figures and lush minor-key post-core dynamics. The music Chokebore pump out comes from deep down and tastes almost unbearably bitter, but I seem to have developed something of a thirst for it. Riffing on the water metaphor is almost impossible to avoid while listening to Anything..., since nearly every song on the record contains a watery image, often in eccentric and oddly moving forms: "raining like a leaf", "I bleed like lakes", and "dripping wet like glass" are among the most striking. Images of storms, blood, lemons, and wasps recur and complicate the water motif, solidifying the strong sense of violence, acerbity, and pain that characterizes the music and particularly Troy Bruno Von Balthazar's vocals. Balthazar's versatile voice-a yodeling banshee wail on "Comeback Thursday" and "Thin as Clouds", cracking and vulnerable on "Foreign Devils on the Silk Road" and "Wash (You Glow)", angry and menacing on "Well Fed"-betrays an alienation more personal than mere loneliness and more bitter than simple misanthropy. The guitars-bass-drums unit moves deliberately underneath, alternating often between a single treble guitar thrum, Sonic Youth-style, and a full-bore bass-heavy charge a la Helmet, while seldom accelerating beyond midtempo.

Sara Manaugh

Puncture #33 (summer 1995)