Ron Morelli, Spit

Abby Garnett

By Abby Garnett

on 11.18.13 in Reviews

Brooklyn-based label Long Island Electrical Systems (L.I.E.S.) has grown into a prominent voice for counter-cultural dance music in just a few short years, boasting an eclectic roster (Dutch house legend Legowelt and smooth shapeshifter Marcos Cabral, among others) and issuing limited white label pressings that up the ante on exclusivity. Their loosely-defined aesthetic is honed by founder Ron Morelli, a man whose grumpy anti-commercialism has become as reliable as the quality of his label’s output.

A hellish landscape traveled with a DJ’s sense of ebb and flow

Morelli himself records for L.I.E.S. under several monikers, including U-202 and as part of duo Two Dogs in a House, but for his debut full-length, Spit, he went to Hospital Productions, an imprint known for blackest-black noise. Having grown up as a hardcore kid in the New York area, Morelli sounds at home here, pairing a sadistic metal-tinged crunch with themes of isolation and anti-social feeling. The result is a hellish landscape traveled with a DJ’s sense of ebb and flow: “No Real Reason” sounds like a mad scientist’s reworking of the Miami Vice theme, and “Sledgehammer II” traps a pen of wheezing pigs in a warehouse of rusted, clanking machinery. When the industrial throb abates, it opens gateways for armies of trilling insects, renegade computer programs, and jabbering, unintelligible voices, unleashed like a series of plagues on nightclub revelers.

It’s as much a rejection of community as it is another entry into the Brooklyn underground, a spiritual inheritor of the primitive, noise-loving No Wave artists that populated Manhattan’s downtown scene in the late ’70s. But the paranoia here is Morelli’s own — the album’s title refers to the expectorations of prostitutes working in Morelli’s neighborhood — and on the Suicide-like gallop “Crack Microbes,” he creates an alternate version of underground nightlife, a hypochondriac response to the crush of urban living.