I spent the 90s being really into quirky, chaotic hardcore bands who stepped outside the usual cultural mold around that genre to challenge preconceptions and make people think while they slam-danced. And since I was living in Richmond then, too, one of the bands I paid the most attention to in that vein was Action Patrol, whose brief existence brought forth a wealth of great music. Up in DC, there were the Meta-matics, whose pointed political lyrics and sharp postpunk riffing later gave way to the improvisational funk noise of the All Scars. Today, former Action Patrol frontman David Grant and former Meta-matics/All Scars frontman Chuck Bettis are working together as Snake Union, and they’re still challenging preconceptions and pushing the boundaries of what music can be.
But let me warn you, Snake Union is not some new hardcore project. No, it’s got nothing to do with punk or even rock music. This electronic project, in which Bettis and Grant work together to create complex digital rhythms, uses analog synthesizers, modular controllers, and all sorts of other machines in the production of improvised grooves that find a driving forward motion and ride that wave for as long as they can. Their 2017 EP, The Role Of Revulsion, includes several lengthy tracks that start with a quiet, sinister mood and build towards an unsettling but captivating climax. Grant and Bettis will be creating similar musical movements at Black Iris this Saturday night, and fans of experimental noise, German cosmische music, and avant-garde electronics are sure to enjoy the results.