They Are Gutting a Body of Water & A Country Western - An Insult to the Sport (Split EP Review)

The science on friendships is out; they are critical to our mental health and general well-being. Friendships allow us to share our ideas without fear of being judged and can make the burdens of life seem less insurmountable. Unfortunately, the importance of physical comradery has waned in our digital world. Though, that could be me projecting. Playing music is undoubtedly one reliable way of getting a healthy dose of social interaction. Beyond playing in bands, ensembles, or orchestras, split releases offer an intriguing way for acquainted artists to showcase their respective work.

Split tapes work best when the artists involved have some level of incommensurability. This is the case for An Insult to the Sport, a sterling joint effort from Philadelphians They Are Gutting a Body of Water and A Country Western. While both projects deal in obtuse and hazy guitar-driven experimental electronic music, they have different purgatives. Where They Are Gutting a Body of Water has the scope of a dimly lit community hall (as opposed to an arena), A Country Western feels more up close and personal. However, both groups live with one foot in rock music and one in the digital realm, a type of laptop time crystal where synthenic beats communicate with highly effected guitar.


"Elephant" by They Are Gutting a Body of Water opens the split EP with a shock wave of raucous post-shoegaze wonder. Sweet melodies abound here, as they do on the twisted prettiness of the everchanging "The Brazil", which is warped by capricious tempos, voice manipulations, and elegantly executed servings of emotion.  

A Country Western start their side with "Lung", a concoction of glitchy beats and big guitars, then turn to mega-accessible academic indie rock on the Pavementesque "Keeping Up With The Jonses", which has all the sunniness of a summery Saturday afternoon, it's monophonic guitar layers and botched arrangement signs of a well-practised craft. The sweet songwriting of "Crossing out My Lines" hangs from the delicately marionetted indie rock before falling away to nothing from whence a static pulse emerges, closing the collection with dark intensity.  

An Insult to the Sport is by no means an insult to the art of the split EP. In fact, it's a testament to collaboration and friendships. The group's similarities help to draw connections, their differences help to make it worthwhile.