Angel Guts: Red Classroom is a rip-roaring exit from sanity into a mute staircase towards the icy burn of hell-realms unknown, guarded by the two-headed sonic phenomenon that is Xiu Xiu. The smouldering ash of television static stands as deafeningly still as a lonely mountain in the distant volcanic rage, as the album opens with a cinematic, guitar-swept cloudburst. We enter into the looming storm. Soft clashing metal echoes with a voice resonant of dungeon-cold electronica beats, sparing no mercy in the ghastly awe of new American music.

Xiu Xiu’s latest album splurges from the quixotic essence of Los Angeles noir. Analog drum pads and synthesized vocals inundate with an unchallenged pace along monstrous waves of unreason, as the lyrics spew forth a vicious realism — see “Black Dick.” The overall rhythmic punch strikes straight through the vein as a mangy and growling junkie in need of the suicidal fix. Songwriter Jamie Stewart animates his cold-throated voicing through sexual perversion and stigmatic violence.

The tide recedes back into the calm of “New Life Immigration,” reverberating with a solemnity to the core. This new avant-garde masterwork, influenced by everything from Japanese erotica to Einstürzende Neubauten, is a diamond in the rough, wrought from the deadening mines of the soul from which it rose through and into the fantastic production of John Congleton. Angel Guts: Red Classroom is indispensable Xiu Xiu, American avant-garde music ruthlessly exposed.

By Matt Hanson

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