New York-based mathcore duo Bangladeafy made waves as early as 2011 with their debut release, This Is Your Brain on Bugs, and kept surprising and impressing with each successive release. This month, the drums-and-bass band releases Ribboncutter, a twenty-two-minute EP showcasing the culmination of their years of experience and experimentation.
Adding to their more natural-sounding beginnings, bassist John Ehlers now shamelessly uses a multitude of pedals to enhance the sounds that can only come from his bass guitar. Besides the to-be-expected overdrive and distortion, there are certainly a few other ones: reverb, echo, delay, flange, pitch shift, harmonizer, and loop pedals are among those that spring to mind. There are also some synth lines, which is I believe a novelty for the duo (or at the very least this instrument is exploited here more than before). Title track “Ribboncutter” also sees some vocals, another oddity for Bangladeafy.
John and Atif form a spectacular symbiosis. John’s bass work is as incredibly daunting as ever, playing across the whole tessitura of his instrument in a frantic and relentless fashion—which made Bangladeafy what it is!—while Atif’s drums are complex and intricate, melodic in a sense, too, with different percussions playing the role of pitches on a musical staff. He’s certainly not there to make it easy for us to follow along with a consistent crash cymbal on top of complex underlying rhythms, like a reminder of the hypermetric beat; no, Atif is here to accentuate every little saccade and off-beat punctuation.
Ribboncutter is undoubtedly Bangladeafy’s best work to date, topping even 2016’s Narcopaloma, which already set the bar higher than before. It’s fair to wonder whether this growth is sustainable: can it keep getting better? Surely the amazement will wear out some day… But this is a question for another year. For now, let’s just enjoy how awesome this album is, and revel in the bliss of innocence.