The following review appeared in Infinity Press August 1998
Far into the stratosphere of what is ordinarily deemed music, beyond the tired conventions of “modern” rock, lies the uncharted realm of Slugwrench. This is by no means to say that the Slug does not exist in our own musical universe. On the contrary, our world is his instrument, played in collages of textured sound. No encounter with his music is the same, as Slugwrench is a subjective sonic experience. Leave your label-matic stereotyping shackles for a moment and consider tones from the other side of the mirror. All you ‘Rapture-ites’ out there, this bag is not for you! (But we dare you to listen anyway!)
A year and a half ago, I visited the domain of Slugwrench for the first time. I was not prepared for the instantaneous departure from ordinary musical time and space that awaited me once the speakers started to pulse. I was converted after the first track, and once you become part of the Slugwrench collective, you can never go back. During a three hour rap-a-thon with regular doses of sound dimentia, IP came to know and respect the ‘man behind the curtain’-- the madman at the helm of the mothership, the incomparable Jason Shepherd. A studio wizard as well as a versitile player, Shepherd not only writes and performs, but produces his own recordings. This is in keeping with the self production ethic that says you can’t truly be intimate with your music unless you are in complete contral of its creation. Shepherd most definitely has achieved this union of soul and craft as the master of a tone-splitting, jaw popping, mind altering rhythm machine of his own design.
One of the central functions of the Slugwrench is, from this writer’s perception, constant stylistic expansion– a perpetual metamorphosis of both music and musician. This was self evident when IP caught up with Shepherd recently. A new transformation was in progress as expressed through the dense electronica known as Prole. The first Cd released on local indie meta-label Intollerence Records, this all new 20 track panorama of vibrant audio stimuli. Demo cassettes 1 and 2 (released over a year ago) were only a taste of the voodoo-juice that Shepherd can brew. This one requires x-ray glasses and a surge protector, Are you plugged in yet?
“The music has changed a lot,” Shepherd relates. “It’s gotten less industrial. I don’t know why really. I’ve just gotten more into the electronic aspect– away from regular instruments, so to speak. I don’t think all songs require the standard four piece band. With electronics, you just have so many more options-- it gives you that much more ability to express your creativity through the music.”
Through the mediums of 3 Pentium computers, a Korg X3 and a Kurzweil K2500RS, Slugwrench warps the wave spectrum, interweaving etherial electronica, poignantly minimalist vocals and yes roots nuts, real instruments. The product is a darkly saturated vortex of tonal texture the likes of which middle America rarely glimpses. Each track Slugwrench cuts is uniquely and almost entirely Jason Shepherd.
“On Prole, it was just me on about ten tracks,” says Shepherd. “Then I had DJ Gagball on the other ten...He helped in the studio with sound manipulation and sequencing. Also, he listened to recordings for level adjustment and mixing– kind of an all around assistant engineer.”
As cryptic as Slugwrench itself, is the new album’s title– an Orwellian reference that begs for explanation. Unfortunately, due to the code of secrecy imparted to IP by the master Slug, we can’t tell you in this article. However, when you pick up (and you will pick up) the CD, examine the cover closely for the method in the message. Slugwrench urges all to find the secret picture...
I wouldn’t say that the album is drug music,” says Shepherd. “But, many of the songs were almost customized for someone listening on acid with headphones.” (Laughs)
Do you remember that episode of The Simpsons when the whole town thought it was the end of the world, when it was only the opening of a mall? Do you think they would have seen right through the marketing scheme if they had been on magic mushrooms? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you at least partially understand both the meaning of Prole and the significance of its cover candy. The rest is in the music, and the auditory hallucinations are free.
Though Slugwrench has only played select shows so far, each performance has proven to be a signature reflection of electricity beyond. Live, the master Slug calls upon the unique talents of some like, musical minds. Their contributions to the sound sphere bring a raw defining element to the liquid layers of Slugwrench’s penetrating power. During his last show at the Cain’s, Shepherd took the stage alone. For upcoming Prole promotion dates, he will play with friends.
“In addition to playing some shows alone, I will bring in my band Aeroin and Tampon on bass and drums,” says Shepherd. “No official dates have been set yet, but we’re going to mix it up, practice and go from there.”
If you simply can’t wait to hear what the Slugwrench sound is all about, you won’t have long to simmer. Prole will be available in stores on August 20. Look for it at Starship, Mohawk, Sound Warehouse and Borders in Tulsa, Rainbow Records in OKC and Shadow Play in Norman. Simultaneously, a barrage of loyal Slug-sters will be spreading CD’s across the nation. Once the assault begins, only the Slugs will survive. In a glitz globe of industry idiocy, remember that music is best when cultivated at home. Innovative, unpretentious and chronically potent, Slugwrench will twist your pipe, tighten your nuts, and remove the plug that has been lodged in the center of your sweet musical ass.
The following partial review/interview appeared in Infinity Press June 1997
...We knew that there were a few obscure acts still trying to preserve the pure volatile nature of their manic mayhem. But what about right here in the quietly evaporating town of Tulsa, Oklahoma? Then, while fishing through some lost demo tapes that had been shoved to the bottom of the inevitable "we'll get to it later" file, we came across something. It was obviously an underground project, produced by an obscure label called Intolerance Records. This sounded promising. So, we popped the tape in, sat back and waited for sound. What came from the speakers was an intricately textured, highly innovative power punch of raw anger. After listening to the cassette twice, once for the sheer discovery, and once for the sheer enjoyment, we knew that our long search was over. Tulsa had redeemed itself. Industrial music is alive and well in the creation of Jason Shepherd, the angry young band we now know as Slugwrench...
This one appeared in Okie Load magazine March 1997, Vol 2, Issue 3
Slugwrench's demo cassette tape comes from Intolerance Records, a small, independent record label in Tulsa. Slugwrench is a project from Jason Shepherd, who programmed, composed, and performed all the music and sounds on this tape.
Side 1 starts out with an industrial-influenced mix of chaotic guitar/keyboard sounds and menacing vocals. This sound then blends into a kind of danceable techno-psychotica with a rhythmic drumbeat.
Vocals are even more distorted on this second song(?). Lots of whispering and that keyboard-created whacka whacks whacka--sorry, don't know what instrument that's called. A hypnotic, spacey feel but too up-tempo to be drug music.
Third song or segment has some pyrotechnics, like something out of a wired, science-fiction movie soundtrack. A mix between a record continually caught on a turntable and Chewbacca moaning.
Side 2 has a brief interlude with acoustic guitar and smooth Bowie kind of vocals, but it doesn't last long enough. Next song is a nice, long techno dance tune with an interesting drum pattern and some spooky flute-like music. The song builds up steam as it goes along and ends with some evil-sounding guy having a good laugh.
If you like techno, you would probably enjoy this tape. It is available for $4; plus, you can get an earlier one for $2. Both are on sale at Mohawk, Starship, and Studio 66. Write to Intolerance Records at P.O. Box 55701 Tulsa OK 74155.
The following review appeared in Okie Load magazine April 1997, Vol 2, Issue 4
SLUGWRENCH. RAZOR WIRE FLAIL-DEMO ONE.
Last month I reviewed the 2nd cassette in this series. This is the first one because I liked to be backwards. Slugwrench is the one-man project of Jason Shepherd, a man with a mission--create some new and bizarre music. Now I don't know if that's his mission--I just made it up, but these tapes are an original, compelling lot.
The three unnamed songs on this tape are probably what might be called techno-industrial. They all include distorted lyrics and a chaotic mix of keyboard and otherworldly sounds. The first song, which I'll call "Inside," because of the repitition of that word, is certainly a danceable one, but with an industrial NIN-like force in the vocals. "Take Cover," another made-up song title (see I'm always trying to put form to content) is the next song that starts with what sounds like a VW trying to start and then an AM-like radio voice seems to be threatening nuclear attack (well something like that). TAKE COVER is the essence of this music. And then the water drips and the vocals clear, and a caged-in feeling ensues with the lyrics: "I can't find a cure for this disease of loneliness." More AM-radio noise and then bed-springs start popping.
Third song I'll call "Borg" because this one starts with an almost traditional sounding drumbeat and undistorted vocals, but that soon changes. Eventually there's this sound like a piece of metal flapping on Mars. And then a jackhammer and the whisper of voices in static. Lyrics from the first song repeat here: something about 'it's inside of me.' So that made me think of Star Trek and the part-human, part-machine enemies called the Borg, who go around telling the Treksters, "We will assimilate you now."
Slugwrench's music is like the Borg: an interesting assimilation of human and electronics. But I don't expect Jason has the same evil intentions the Borg always had! In fact, the whole tape seems to describe a fight between man and machine.
The tape, along with the second demo, is available at Mohawk Music, Starship, or Studio 66. Write to Jason at Intolerance Records P.O. Box 55701 Tulsa, OK 74155.
The following review appeared in Okie Load magazine May 1997, Vol 2, Issue 5
One man-recording dynamo Jason Shepherd, the guy behind Slugwrench, had a recent show at Eclipse, where he and Aaron Miller on drums played a 30-minute set.
Unfortunately, I was out of town all weekend, so I didn't catch the show. I have reviewed 2 of Slugwrench's demo tapes in the past, and, in fact Intolerance Records' David Basteri told me parts of the review are on the internet. Ooh la la. Too bad I don't have a modem! Anyway, if you're interested in Slugwrench's industrial/techno music, key in http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Lot/3657/ and you should find the Intolerance Records website. Watch for flyers to see when Slugwrench will be playing again. Contact Jason or david at P.O. Box 55701, Tulsa, OK 74155-5701.
The following review appeared in Okie Load magazine November 1997, Vol 2, Issue 11
SOCKS DOES SLUGWRENCH
Jason Shepherd said of the latest cassette tape from his band Slugwrench: 'You'll like this one.' Well, I liked the other ones. But he was right. I LIKE this one.
Still with a heavily industrial/techno sound, Jason seems to have worked some on getting his latest songs to have more danceable beats to them. The first song 'Pincushion' is a great example: you simply can't sit still to this one: it's infectious. Moving disease. . . toes tapping. 'Malignant' has that Star Wars/STOMP feel to it that a lot of the songs on the earlier tapes had: consistent beat throughout though, even with that bassoon (?) going-and the elephant stampede toward the end.
'The Mood is Fear' reminds me of another Tulsa one-man band's work: Pale or Mark Weintz, who I've reviewed in the past--with its sort of Eastern rhythm; course the distorted vocals are quite a bit different from Mark's. Jason makes good use of some good samples and sound bytes (or maybe it's just Jason putting on a nerdy voice) on this tape, especially on 'Drat.'
'Chog' is a psycho air-raid with Chewbacca doing backing vocals. 'Meek' is anyhting but--the closest thing to a radio friendly industrial dance tune you can find on this tape. This song made Socks, my puppy dog, run full-speed through the kitchen and dining room and head first into the door stop behind the closet. BOOOING!!!!
'Slugwrench Girls' has the clearest lyrics of any of the songs: a chick reciting from the Slugwrench girls sex manual and doing some heavy-duty moaning in illustration. 'Bury your face in this.' 'Plan 18' has a sound that I would normally associate with industrial: like the machinery in a factory grinding out a worker's melody.
'Dissolve' seems more sound effects than song--though I guess we could all have different ideas on what a song is anyway. 'Repulsive Discoveries' is a hell of a name for a song. Millennium ought to use it for their theme--this sounds like what the devil would sing if we gave him a mic and a wrecked accordion. Socks scratched the screen door until I let him out on this one.
'Trapped' is a agoraphobic's brain waves recorded and attached to a Harley spinning on a bike stand. 'Slugwrench Love Song' is too much of a tribute to torture for me, but the piano is lovely. 'Plan 20' is plain funky, man.
I'm sure I don't know all the labels, but if you're looking for some music in the techno vein--with some real original sound to it--you don't have to go outside the city. Most of the songs on this tape will be on Slugwrench's first CD which Jason is working on now.
If you'd like a copy of the tape though, contact Jason at P.O. Box 55701 Tulsa 74155-5701. Demo's 1 & 2 are also available at Starship and Mohawk.
Special thanks to: Shaun Moffitt, editor of Okie Load.
Special thanks to: William Brewster and Chris Schmeig from Infinity Press.