E: Negative Work (Thrill Jockey)

Second album from Boston alt.rock/post punk trio of US underground notables

Released May 25th, 2018 via Thrill Jockey / By Richard Lewis
E: Negative Work (Thrill Jockey) Comprising of three Boston-based underground big hitters, post-punk outfit E comprise guitarist/vocalists Thalia Zedek from Come, Live Skull and Jason Sanford of Neptune along with sticksman Gavin McCarthy from Karate. While the trio might hail from the City Upon A Hill in Massachusetts, the trio's approach is far more redolent of punk/No Wave era New York than the College Rock doyens of their hometown.

Part of the generation of musicians that invented alt. rock in the States, the second album by the three-piece Negative Work effectively acts as a digest of the movement. The spectre of Sonic Youth, one of the most influential bands to have emerged from the States looms especially large. With the tuneful/atonal twin guitar lines, male/female vocal interplay and rumbling drums, several cuts are highly reminiscent of the NYC crew’s 1992 Dirty LP. Pennies and Hollow that bookend Negative Work once the they have achieved lift-off following the intro sound as though Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon’s vocals are about to swoop in.

Other, earlier New York figureheads, CBGBs legends Television, No Wave pioneer Glen Branca and further back to minimalist composer Steve Reich can also be glimpsed, with the repeated guitar motif of Untie Me suggesting the latter. Elsewhere Cannibal Chatroom suggests the uneasy tension of post-punk outfit Wire while Hole In Nature, with its brooding guitar arpeggio and lightly pattering drumbeat that threatens to turn into something huge but stays restrained recalling groundbreaking post-rock act Slint.

An album that may find favour with fans of the aformentioned acts, despite its impressive provenance Negative Space sounds closer to a stitched together patchwork of influences rather than the work of a distinctive new group.