Philly’s They Are Gutting A Body of Water creates an exploration of shoegaze with strong underlying connections in their second LP Destiny XL. Imagine a cyberspace theme park — drenched in static noise with streams of data flowing across multiple pathways, where all paths lead to its own unique attraction. The pathways evolve into coarse, gritty textures while the attractions are their own manifestations of the signals. The result is a tight experience with plenty of frenetic shifts and swerves, yet still manages to flow neatly into one another. Indeed, Destiny XL feels like flipping channels on an old TV.
What started off as a solo project from Doug Dulgarian has truly flourished into something special. Destiny XL has a strong cyberpunk inspiration to it, and while others express this idea via synth-wave using neon lights and lush textures, They Are Gutting a Body of Water moves the opposite direction. Proponents of cyberpunk should well be familiar with the phrase “high-tech / low-life”. Their sound (aesthetically speaking) covers the latter part of that statement, capturing the grime and harshness and the underground, the punk side of the genre, where denizens of the underground fight against corporate rule. The sound is gritty and dark, with motifs reminiscent of digital sounds and signals. Yet all is not grim in this collection, moments and bliss and awe still find refuge with the use of graceful hooks and melodies.
For those looking for acidic Sonic Youth rock, “texas instruments” and “violence I” should feel like home with its lavish soundscapes and mosh-pit friendly jams. Indie pop and bedroom pop finds its time in the melancholic “eightball”. “63 skies” somehow takes the noise and elevates it into a blissful dream-state.
In “double apple”, this soft-loud dynamic is used to great effect. It starts with shoegaze under copious amounts of weight, where digital noise drips across the mix like liquid concrete. It then proceeds to an uplifting tune by the bridge with indie-pop riffs and melodies before diving back to the grime by the end.
The album is also peppered in with instrumentals, which serves to add more channels to the programming. “ES beautyhand” is glitch hop that sounds like an android playing with its own hydraulics. “Moerenuma park” feels like a dusty television set endlessly flipping through dead channels. “Mother plus” is trap with industrial tones that spiral in an out like a winding staircase of peppy snares and hi-hats.
Variety and consistency with a tightly executed concept. Destiny XL makes this contradiction seem trivial, and what’s left is a great album through and through.