Of Brains and Brutality

Drummers and longtime collaborators Lee Buford and Zac Jones make it official with Manslaughter 777

Zac Jones (left) and Lee Buford of Manslaughter 777 by Harrell Jones

Manslaughter 777’s World Vision Perfect Harmony might be relentlessly manipulated from a production standpoint, but like so much modern music shepherded by folks who primarily self-identify as drummers, there’s a certain humanity that leeches through the mix no matter how glitchy the tones get.

The album represents a new collaboration between drummer/percussionist Lee Buford of the more rockist but similarly unconstrained duo the Body (their latest, I’ve Seen All I Need to See, just dropped) and drummer Zac Jones of the orchestral and spacey acts Braveyoung and MSC. As Manslaughter 777, the duo paint from a palette of breakbeat-ish, dubby colors often applied to a foundation of drumset beats. These are then processed with enough filtration to make them sound ultra-contemporary yet never too far from what flesh-and-blood players, particularly ones equally inspired by dancey and brutal music, might come up with. In other words, you can feel the sweat in these cuts, and that absolutely elevates them.

According to Jones, “Some tracks start with me and Lee getting on a live kit together or separately and recording takes, and sometimes it starts with a programmed drum part that we accentuate with live drums, using overtones from room mics and errant sounds to sample and use as individual parts. My favorite drum machine is the ugly ol’ big honker made by Roland called the MC-909. A lot of the sounds are from that. [We] also used an Arturia Drumbrute for its lovely kick — and only its kick — and various sampled breaks and live drum takes.”

Like the Body’s I’ve Seen All I Need to See, World Vision Perfect Harmony was recorded and mixed by Seth Manchester of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, recording studio/event space Machines With Magnets. Manchester’s mandate clearly goes well beyond capturing a room sound, as Buford suggests in an explanation he recently gave to Thrill Jockey Records’ Mike Boyd: “[For I’ve Seen All I Need to See] I played no hi-hats or anything, and then we went back and overdubbed them. Because when you start blowing out the sound of the other drums, you can’t have cymbals in there too or it just sounds too crazy. So we had to have them separated and overdub them. When you’re playing it, it doesn’t sound that weird, you know — like without the distortion or delay. Really bizarre. But Seth did a great job.”

World Vision Perfect Harmony follows a decade of collaborations between Buford and Jones — who also plays drums for the Body overseas, as Buford doesn’t fly — starting with the Body & Braveyoung’s Nothing Passes, as well as Buford’s recent electronic experiments with Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota) and Dylan Walker (Full of Hell) as Sightless Pit.

World Vision Perfect Harmony is due out from Thrill Jockey on March 19, though the singles “Do You Know Who Loves You” (check out the video here) and “ARC” are available to stream.

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