Chicago-based post-punk trio Luggage have announced the release of their third full-length, Shift, due out on November 22nd. Recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago with Matthew Barnhart (Shearwater, The New Year) handling the engineering duties, the album was recorded almost entirely live (with the exception of vocals and a few minor overdubbed embellishments). As a result, Shift bears Electrical Audio’s trademark hi-fidelity perfection and organic purity. The band members’ disciplined restraint and frequency-specific contributions allow the listener to hear every instrument, every nuance, and every tonal deviation. The calculated limitations on Shift not only serve to capture Luggage in their purest state, they capture the entire essence of Chicago. It’s as imposing, rigid, and cold as their environment, but also thrives with life within the confines of its monolithic constructions.
Luggage began in the summer of 2014 when bassist Michael John Grant and drummer Luca Cimarusti (both of noise rock outfit Basic Cable) began conversations with mutual friend Michael Vallera about the prospect of a new project. At that time, Vallera was mostly known as one half of the ambient duo Cleared. “The idea of bringing our two separate backgrounds—mine in punk, his in experimental minimalism—together was a really exciting idea to me,” Cimarusti says. In early 2015, the trio formally began rehearsals and the foundation of Luggage took shape. After four years of navigating and refining their technique, releasing two small-run albums, playing with bands ranging from Gang of Four to Lightning Bolt, and surviving the day-to-day slog of life in the city, Luggage finally honed in on the sound they’d been hearing in their heads with their third full-length Shift. “When putting this record together we absolutely channeled the spirit of our hometown,” Cimarusti says. “And I think a lot of that sound and energy just comes from living, breathing, and working in Chicago.”
From the opening bars of Shift’s first track, Luggage demonstrates their modus operandi—muscular economic drum patterns, lurching repetitive bass, glassy and discordant guitar lines, and fractured, disembodied vocals. It almost harkens back to the earliest days of industrial music, where ham-fisted grooves underscore throbbing bass and scratchy swaths of dissonant texture. “We all worked hard to create a mechanical delivery for the sound, vocals, and lyrics that all act in tandem,” Vallera says. “That is really what Shift is for me—an exercise in using as few things as possible to create something larger, something cathartic.” Lyrically, Vallera culled from the poetry of Louise Glück and Zbigniew Herbert, using terse, abstracted vignettes to instill an ominous aura to the tedium of everyday life. Cimarusti took a similarly ascetic approach to his instrument. “If a song would sound good with a beat played on a hi-hat, a kick drum, and a snare drum, I would remove the hi-hat. I spent the time writing this record figuring out a way to make space and absence sound loud and powerful.” As with many early post-punk outfits, the bass takes on a crucial role in Luggage, with Michael John Grant’s punchy, tube-grit bass lines providing the melodic foundation for his bandmate’s reductive deconstructions.
Shift will be released November 22nd via Corpse Flower Records and is available for pre-order here. Stay tuned for more news and info to surface soon.
Luggage, Shift track listing:
4. Every Day