Audio Mixer: Chris Woodhouse.
Recording information: Vacation (04/15/2014).
Photographer: Brian Pritchard.
Whoever told you psychedelic music was supposed to be peaceful and contemplative clearly has never heard of Destruction Unit; powerfully lysergic and as gentle as a wrecking ball, Ryan Rousseau's edition of the band is a full-on assault of raw guitar-based noise hovering over minimal rock & roll changes, pouring over the listener with the impact of a blast furnace generating clouds of solid audio. While Destruction Unit have made some fine studio recordings, they're the sort of band whose natural habitat is a live performance, and Live in San Francisco attempts to deliver the best of both worlds, as John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees leader and the man behind Castle Face Records) struggles to document a DU gig in Northern California on tape with reasonable accuracy. In the grand tradition of the MC5's Kick Out the Jams, Live in San Francisco is a live album that's impossible to play quietly; while the speaker-shredding intensity of the performance emerges intact, Dwyer's recording also catches the details amidst the chaos, and even though there's not much here that sounds like a melody in the conventional sense, there's enough going on that it clearly seems like music, spontaneous and bludgeoning but somehow inspired and glowing with passion and force, and the courage with which these musicians mix these volatile elements is truly impressive. Destruction Unit's music is very much a matter of personal taste -- you're either going to love this sort of acid-damaged 150-dB aural blitzkrieg or you'll flee in abject terror -- but there honestly is a sense of purpose in this performance that many noise outfits can't match, and somehow Live in San Francisco takes the Godzilla-scale stomp of DU's stage show and makes it portable. Pair this up with a suitably powerful stereo and the right hallucinogens, and it's the next best thing to being there. ~ Mark Deming