Posted on April 1st, 2019
[as seen on Adhoc]
The cover of Sharkmuffin’s 2017 release, Tsuki Re-Issue Bonus Tracks, features three smiling, floating mermaid alien grunge goddesses. One is blue, one is red, and one is green—it’s like the Powerpuff Girls just discovered Bikini Kill and poppers.
It’s a fitting image for the self-described “KITTY FUZZ SPACE GRUNGE” trio, who have been churning out playful, rowdy art rock for nearly seven years. It also nods to earlier offerings of theirs, such as the jangly, gnarled “Mermaid Sex Slave” (2013) and “Cat Mermaid” (2018), a brief, ethereal ode to—you guessed it—a cat mermaid. These characters are just two of many that occupy the Brooklyn band’s magical multiverse.
The newest additions are a receptionist-turned-space dominatrix named Serpentina and her genetically engineered “designer baby.” Serpentina’s dystopian sci-fi story unfolds over the course of Sharkmuffin’s latest EP, Gamma Gardening, which is out April 5 on Exploding In Sound Records, and showcases Tarra Thiessen (guitar, vocals), Natalie Kirch (bass, vocals), and Jordyn Blakely (drums, vocals) at their scuzzy, screaming, scattered best. One highlight is the six-minute-long, reverb-drenched “Too Many Knobs,” which pairs their gasped and yelped and barked vocals with cascading guitar solos that suggest something along the lines of hypnosis or mind-control gone terribly wrong.
“Gamma Gardening is our sci-fi rock opera starring Serpentina, a dominatrix that takes a temp job as a receptionist and has an affair with a genetic engineer. They code a designer baby together that can breathe underwater and survive in outer space without a suit. The Atomic Gardening Society finds out and takes their baby away for testing, and Serpentina ultimately hangs herself with a belt,” explained Thiessen in an email to AdHoc.
“To me, [the EP] is about maintaining your human qualities in an increasingly technological world, the feeling of questioning how much of yourself is a product of your environment, and the chaos of robots and humans learning how to coexist with each other,” added Blakely.
“Tarra and I were brainstorming over tacos when I wrote the ‘Receptionist’ bass line,” Kirch adds. “Tarra had just sent me a demo for ‘Serpentina,’ inspired by a serpentine belt that sparked the album’s plot. ‘Designer Baby’ is a reworked oldie of Tarra and mine. ‘Too Many Knobs’ is Jordyn’s nod to societal tech overload. ‘Fate’ tied up the dreamy, galactic energy. Gamma Gardening [is] an EP conjured from oil changes, tacos, and test tubes.”