It’s probably for the best that Philly-based digital-hardcore/hardcore-hip-hop (digital-hardcore-hip-hop?) duo GHÖSH have capped each of their releases thus far at five tracks because, frankly, anything more than that could knock you out. While groups like 100 gecs have been doing some heavy lifting lately acclimating wide audiences to the weirdo sounds of the underground’s future, GHÖSH continue to push the limits of those sounds alongside peers like Lu$tSickPuppy and Deli Girls, who infuse their music with a relentless club energy additionally fueled by the aggression of turn-of-the-century heavy alt-rock.
The purest distillation of this sound arrives this Friday, with Symphony Spell and Zachary Fairbrother’s latest EP Prismassive blending the in-your-face provocation of Azaelia Banks and the violence of horrorcore staples like Three 6 Mafia with dizzying drum ’n’ bass beats across a raging 13 minutes. The EP was introduced with the single “Devil Lady” which, at under two minutes, combines nu metal guitar riffs with an almost comically fast jungle beat to soundtrack Spell’s vision for this project as a response to a religious and conservative upbringing (“ACAB, even my dad / A.C.A.B. even my daddy,” Spell quips in the impossibly catchy chorus of an older single).
This combination of rage and playfulness extends across Prismassive’s five tracks, which are streaming here two days ahead of the EP’s official release this Friday via Ramp Local. Along with the early listen, Spell and Fairbrother broke down the influences behind each track, as well as the eight additional singles included on the physical version of the release. Check it out below, and pre-order Prismassive here.
1. “Intro (Keith Speaks)”
Symphony: Keith is GHÖSH’s mascot. He’s a demonoid from outer space. He travels from galaxy to galaxy liberating those too oppressed to have a good time and protecting those who do.
2. “Funky Rave Hits”
Zachary: This is a heavily inspired electro/hip-house styled track, a la Dizzee Rascal. Jarrett Dougherty helped out by playing the bass line through his Moog synth. One of two tracks co-produced by El Grillo.
Symphony: The idea was to create a party atmosphere where it just keeps crescendoing into insanity and obnoxiousness. The hook summarizes our approach to making music. Lyrically, it was heavily inspired by Azaelia Banks, one of the best rappers ever.
3. “Ya Tu Sabes”
Symphony: This one is really a wild combination of a lot of influences. It’s noisy, intense, and menacing. The violence of the lyrics was inspired by Three 6 Mafia, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Cypress Hill, and ICP. I wanted the chorus to be an antagonizing singalong, like a schoolyard taunt. So the song is obnoxious and aggressive, but also just pretty goofy.
4. “Devil Lady”
Symphony: I have a difficult relationship with religion. I grew up Baptist and I hated it. Church was always a place where I felt alienated and judged. I went to this kind of church and was raised by the kind of people who find the devil in anything they don’t like—heavy music, dark clothing; the devil is gay and slutty. I spent a lot of time afraid of the devil, even though the devil seemed to be everywhere, in everything I love. Once I decided to honor the evil in myself, I felt liberated by the power. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the archetype for evil that’s powerful, feminine, and coquettish. Who is the hot goddess of the underworld, or the powerful witch who’s actually pretty cute?
There aren’t a lot out there; evil women are so often portrayed as haggard hermits. I wrote this song to help myself embody that creature. I reference some of my favorite feminine mythological entities like harpies and sirens, Pomba Gira and Strega Nona, as means to harness their energy. Honoring the wickedness in the divine feminine is radical. It feels deliciously mischievous to declare that so proudly. Am I possessed? I might be.
Symphony: With this song, we wanted to mash up two things that were kind of ridiculous. “Short Dick Man” by Gillette and 20 Fingers is one of my favorite songs. It’s funny and simple. A lot of dance music from that era is either really sentimental and romantic or raunchy from a man’s perspective. But “Short Dick Man” is a lighthearted banger for the girls. I made a point to learn all the lyrics to [Mickey Avalon’s] “My Dick” in middle school; those lyrics are locked in my brain for all time. Putting these songs together does feel cheekily queer. But it’s really just irreverent fun to dance to.
Symphony: This is an ode to music. Throughout the song, we reference a bunch of dance classics like “Rhythm Is a Dancer” by Snap!, “Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite, and “Ride the Rhythm” by Marshall Jefferson. A lot of older dance music celebrates the transformative power of dance—the ways in which it can inspire you if you allow it to. But sonically, this song sounds nothing like those old dance classics. Those words take on a new meaning over this crazy big beat/drum ’n’ bass-y production. It invokes a Jet Set Radio Future vibe for the nu Roaring Twenties.
“Testin’ My Raver”
Symphony: This song is about being swept away by the power of dance, but having to deal with someone who’s incapable of having a good time. The chorus is an interpolation of the Three 6 Mafia song “Testin’ My Gangsta.” We wanted to do a fun hyperpop thing, and that’s how the Auto-Tune parts come in. There are some Nirvana references as well. The song is all over the place and is just meant to be a good time.
Symphony: This song was inspired by outdoor raves that happen in silly places in Philly. For the most part those raves are really magical and beautiful, and they were the backdrop for some of my favorite memories in the city. However, this song was written at a time when I was feeling really fried. I had three boyfriends, I was doing too much molly, then doing too many dabs, and my bed frame was supported by milk crates. I was truly a hot mess, but I continued to dance through it. This song oozed out of me like a cry for help.
“Blades of Steel”
Zachary: As a kid, I used to play this NES video game called Blades of Steel, which I alway thought was a funny/poetic/dramatic name for a silly hockey video game. Blades made me think of swords—for whatever reason I envisioned some sort of dimension jumping ninjas that shatter the threads of reality/time with their swords. But overall it’s just a goofy track that’s trying to have a good time and a bit of an homage to Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill.
“Rock ’Em Sock ’Em”
Symphony: This was one of the first songs we ever wrote. It feels pretty experimental. It’s a simple rap song, inspired by a lot of boom-bap-y hip-hop from the ’90s. I wrote this one with New York in mind. I was trying to channel some of that Ninjasonik, Spank Rock kind of party-rap simplicity. I just wanted people to be able to vibe to it.
Symphony: This song is about entering my villain era. At some point in my life, being “baby girl” felt like the ultimate prize. Eventually though, “baby girl” felt like a way to address me if you were about to try to take advantage of me. So this song warns people not to fuck with me, because I’ve made arrangements—the devil and I are fully in cahoots.
“Get Ready to Die”
Symphony: This song is about feeling displaced in your hometown. I’m from New Haven, where Yale is constantly developing but contributes nothing to the community of people actually living in the city. I haven’t lived in New Haven in a while, but I’ve seen gentrification really mess up New York and Philadelphia. I do acknowledge that I could be a part of the problem, but this song is about the global poor coming together to kill rich people for fun.
Symphony: This song is about working in the food service industry. It can be the least rewarding job, because customers treat us like slaves and the people in charge don’t care about us either. It has this really spastic vibe that reflects the fast pace of a busy day at a coffee shop or restaurant. I wanted to take my power back; if I have to exhaust myself for someone else’s fair trade Americano and vegan scone, then I’m going to take all my extra energy to incite a riot.