Last fall we stamped a Band To Watch designation on Fievel Is Glauque, the duo of Brooklyn avant-garde veteran Zach Phillips (Blanche Blanche Blanche, Grendel’s Mother, Perfect Angels) and Belgium-based singer Ma Clément. That band’s excellent Flaming Swords album brimmed with a chaotic yet metropolitan spirit, like Stereolab making a jazz album that moved swiftly but occasionally pounded with ogre-like aggression. Today another Phillips project has emerged with an album exploring adjacent sonic territory.
In notes on Bandcamp accompanying the album, Phillips explains the genesis of the group:
Established 2014, Martyr Group’s original premise was to make 100% live recordings of my dustiest songwriting with 4 guitarists — Stephe, Quentin, Sam & Tommy — rehearsed quickly (or not at all) using highly dubious charts, everyone playing direct-in to the Tascam 388, with zero percussive instrumentation and my vocal mic being the only air on the tape, mixed performatively in a deejay style.
Others have since become enmeshed in the exercise, and many of the collaborators have put their stamp on new album Non-Bloody Martyrdom. The songs were written in Brussels in 2021, but Phillips says he doesn’t remember composing them. He handed them off to his collaborators and let them rip, ending up with a form of jazzy pop that also reminds me of Elephant 6 psychedelia. Per Phillips, “in the end, I hear this as a Quentin or Stephe solo album as much as one by Martyr Group.” Listen below.
Non-Bloody Martyrdom is out now on La Loi.