Crate-Digging Quick Takes: Hey Mother Death – Highway

hey mother death

(Snake Power Records, 2014)

Hey everybody – do you like highly sexualized spoken-word noir music? You do? Me too! Hey listen, there’s this band called Hey Mother Death, and they’re from Nova Scotia and/or Paris, and that’s the kind of thing they do. You’d like them, I think. The duo, consisting of Denma Peisinger (the dude) and Laurence Strelka (the dame – hey, this is noir after all) have a new record out on their own Snake Power Records – actually, it’s their first record. (They had a self-titled cassette out a couple years ago, but this is their first proper album.)

Wait – did you just say “Angelo Badalamenti”? Because I was totally just going to say that. Obviously, Badalamenti’s work with David Lynch (hello, Twin Peaks, specifically) is a point of reference, as are all manner of Hollywood-affected noir storylines. These Nova Scotians sure know their West Coast attitude! (I’m an East Coaster, what do I know.) Actually, the, ahem, package is pretty sexy, with slinky guitar and throbbing bass setting the tone for Strelka’s detached and heavily accented storytelling, conjuring nocturnal trysts and long dark drives through the hills. It doesn’t matter what the premise of the song is, any description will “end in sexy results.” I think. Or murder. With sexy results. (Ew.)

Backing off of that slightly – just slightly – you’ll see embedded here the band’s video for “The Hills,” pretty much the prefect encapsulation of their sound. Coming off like the music at the Road House in Fire Walk With Me (again, propulsive and throbbing), Hey Mother Death score Strelka coming to a house, wandering through it, and finding Peisinger in it somewhere. There’s also water and hugging, but it’s kind of a trippy jam that climaxes with unruly guitar handling. Sure enough, Strelka intones “Give me excess of it,” clearly wanting more of something. …But what? What?!? She moans in ecstasy after a while.

Climaxes, or the lack thereof, figure heavily in the songs, as the title track also features animalistic guitar strangling, again a nice touch to the noir-blues of the song. But there’s also a song called “Bad Sex,” and what’s funny about it is that it doesn’t have a climax, musical or otherwise. It just kind of peters out for a few minutes before stopping. That’s … hilarious. Almost ten minutes of grinding slow jam, and no payoff. It’s an exercise in restraint and frustration, and it totally works. Weirdly, and not in a bad way, I can’t shake the undertones of Ween’s “Flies on My Dick” while listening to “Bad Sex” (and coincidentally the latter’s title informs the former’s) – the pacing is the same, and so is the frustration involved. Other than that, Hey Mother Death sounds nothing like Ween – just an observation.

And … is “Snake Power” a euphemism for something? It’s probably the thing I’m least clear on.

No it isn’t.

Just know this, in the end: Highway is slinky and fun. Strelka and Peisinger clearly enjoy what they’re doing, and if you’re in that Badalementi/Lynch mood, you’ve come to the right place.

RIYL: Angelo Badalamenti, Nico


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