Play Fast or Don't, not only is it an epicly titled album by some upstart protogrinding iconoclasts who masqueraded under the name of Electro Hippies, its usage has also become synonymous with one of the best grind festivals, but perhaps more importantly the phrase has become almost constitutional in nature across the Grindcore / Powerviolence / Fastcore spectrum.
Taking this ethos to heart and duct tapping it into their punkish stride would be Malaysia’s uniquely titled Gymnastic Skull Whistling, in fact a name so obscure and incongruous many a minute has been spent conjuring wild fantasies as to what it would entail exactly. Not only does their name attach itself to a sense of bizzarity, but their rampant thrashing seizure of fastcore converges to the outlandish nature attached to the name.
The production values leave a great deal to be desired, but their heart is in the right place taking cues from the likes of semi-psychotic total-Fastcore veterans Hellnation and Quattro Stagioni, more so the latter than the former; with distinct parallels between the sharp crazed vocal pattern Quattro Stagioni exploited, but also in the very much in your face snapping drum work. There is a distinct metal ring to the percussion, the heavy use of snare being the guilty party, which to my liking is relied upon a bit too heavily giving a certain blunt remembrance but also an explicit desire for a flex of something more responsive and diversified, especially when compared to the guitar work which although somewhat drowned by the drums gives a nice lift of vitality to the release.
Although much can be done to trump the throws of mediocrity and passability, such as those aforementioned, yet overall there is an inherent luddite charm to the release that does get your head nodding in approval, because fundamentally the release is fun in an irregular sort of way, it’s the sort of charm that will merit a couple of joyous listens, but eventually be lost to the far more lathered fastcore on offer by contemporaries. However it being a demo, Gymnastic Skull Whistling still have an opportunity to iron out some of these pitfalls and reinforce their strengths, a future I am curious to see pan out.