Heavy on synthesized sounds and sampled loops while light on hummable melodies and lyrics (many tracks consist of only a few lines of distorted vocals repeated as necessary), Black Cat in Heat, the latest release from New York's Mezzanine Swimmers, is a noisy affair which may initially seem inaccessible and cold yet gradually over repeated listens reveals itself to be mesmerizing, even warm ‘n' fuzzy.
Kicking off with the ominous "Cinnamon Gurl" (not anything like the Neil Young song and spelled like Big Star's "September Gurls"), side A is a largely unsettling set of songs. The opener segues into the title track which follows in similar baleful fashion. By track three when sole member Mike Green brings the listener aboard "Louis Warship," this seems like a dangerous place, despite this cut possessing an absolutely hypnotic soundscape. The side's last two tracks, "The Antidote" and "#night #death," sound like early industrial music, the former more on the Throbbing Gristle end of things and the latter almost like Current 93 with its slightly folky loop.
While side B opener "Bathwater Soldier" isn't exactly Herman's Hermits, it may be the hookiest number thus far. "Sterile Sublimity" goes a step further and practically sounds like it could be a song from Arizona synth-punk outfit Digital Leather, Green's voice sounding not unlike Shawn Foree on this particular cut. It's actually difficult to tell by this point if the songs are growing more accessible as the album progresses or if one simply becomes accustomed to the rather unique sonic world of Mezzanine Swimmers the longer one is immersed within its walls.
"Little Freak" is the sparsest piece on the album, gentle yet haunting, the "Planet Caravan" of Black Cat in Heat. This is followed by the final track, "Liminal Laws," the most triumphant and danceable track of the set. The vocals are hazy and distorted like much of the rest of the record but it sounds like there's an urgent but catchy song, perhaps in the vein of Public Image Ltd. or The Fall, hiding below the surface. A wonderful closer. An unforgettable outing.