Guitarists Mike Eber and Kirk Schoenherr conceived Smother Party in their Brooklyn apartment in 2007. A mutual interest in the emotive qualities of dissonance and unconventional, micro-tonal tuning structures led them to expand, and drummer Sam Levin soon completed the trio. Their explorations of sound and rhythm gave way to their own brand of beautifully dissonant, high-intensity rock that manifests itself in the depth of their compositions.
Echoing the duality of the city in which they live, as well as each member's unique aesthetics, Smother Party's music consistently walks the line between unabashed experimentation and staggering control. Angular, cyclical riffs weigh against sweeping, anthemic melodies over brutally contagious grooves. The result is an extremely visual and melodic music that is often as jarring as it is entrancing.
The arrangements on Casa Limon are frequently propelled by hypnotic but rhythmically off-kilter riffs inflected with the more caustic elements of Rodan, Slint or Shipping News. These sections are thrown into relief by haunting, memorable melodic motifs, and juxtaposed with abstract textures, reminiscent of the work of modern classical composers such as Harry Partch. At times it’s possible to detect the influence of more extreme musical forms, as evinced by the rushing blastbeats and sheets of arcing black metal guitar at the end of Perfidy, the drone-heavy tonal saturation and disjointed rhythmic figures at the climax of Titus, and frequent passages of rhythmic density which evoke the nihilistic post-hardcore of Daughters.
Dissonance sometimes manifests itself through genuine microtonal writing which has no correlation to Western scales or intervals, as in the gentle cascading tones at the start of Titus. In other contexts, such as the latter part of Ghost Games, the effect of the tuning system seems to manifest itself as a grotesque, chilling parody of traditional Minor modes. While Smother party are erudite in their approach to dissonance and musical structure in general, their delivery is never elitist, and the effect for the listener is always immediate and compelling.