Earlier this year, Louisville-based enigma Cory Liner released the singles “Dragon of the West” and “Puke,” laying out tone poem-like expanses of Auto-Tune mixed with percussive beats driven with passion. The two songs set the stage for her new EP Blasphemy, which expands upon and curdles the sonic pulses woven throughout her output thus far.
“Blasphemy is me wrapping up a chapter in my life. I made this over the last year or so, in the heart of the pandemic. This period of time was extremely transformative for me, from transitioning, finding my tribe, finding what kind of music I truly want to make, moving out of my parents house, I think it was more transformative than I even truly realize. This project is about saying goodbye to my adolescence. I love that it’s mainly just a bunch of ambient guitars and stacked vocals, I’m excited to push this type of production even further with my future projects. The act of blasphemy is good.“
– Cory Liner
Track 1: “You Are Your Father’s Son”
The ambient vocalise that ushers in the EP is a hauntingly beautiful thing. It brings to mind the foreboding hypnotism of David Torn’s “To Burble and Pine” (or “Serenity” for those Resident Evil 4 fans), unfurling the playing ground of Blasphemy like a velveteen pouch full of sharp instruments. One of my favorite new tracks off of the release, the instrumental manages to reach into the listener in a purely emotional way- something many of Liner’s best do, yet without the labels inherent in words.
Track 2: “Puke”
I detailed Liner’s second single off the EP more fully here but it warrants all the praise it has coming- “Puke” is a pure, raw achievement of emotive impulse crystallized in an unnervingly grooving lilt. The scorns of a past lover are central here, but not in full display. “Puke” makes use of inference, of the space between lines like “I don’t got a lot of secrets because I shared them all with you.” The pain, the disgust, and the retribution circle the rafters in the spacious world of the song, anchored by Cory’s completely improvised (!) lyrical performance below.
Track 3: “Visas”
“Visas” is a perplexing and cryptic entry into Liner’s work- the song details an almost otherworldly woman by the name of Visas, one who gives and one who takes, one who cannot be controlled, but who will “let you slaughter her.” The song oozes over goth club guitar and a percussive trap beat, concluding with a smirk: “She controls you / She controls every person / And you love it.” Whether the song is a wry metaphor for the eponymous payment cards, travel tickets, or purely a portrait of the force and enigma of the woman in the song is unknown- the ambiguity is welcome in the blurry tapestry of Blasphemy‘s aesthetic world.
Track 4: “Dragon of the West”
After the calculated pace of “Visas,” “Dragon of the West” amps up the energy once again. The initial single from the EP details a relationship gone sour, contrasting the tender, slow arpeggio of guitars over a pulsing club beat. Like “Puke,” “Dragon” shines in the light of its anger. However, some of Cory’s focus is turned on themself here, with lines like “if I listen to my gut then maybe I’ll grow up” welcoming the perspective that one’s own realization about a situation Not Working involves its own spectrum of personal responsibility. The conclusion brings to mind the 1981 cult horror fav Possession in its parallel of cosmic destruction and the dissolution of a partnership: “The planet we live on / is rotting at our fingertips / like our stupid relationship.” Done and done.
Track 5: “Mister Bean’s Lullaby”
Another favorite, “Mister Bean’s Lullaby” eases the EP into a gentle rest, cradled in plucking keys and the distant sound of crickets. The momentary peace of complacency in a dynamic is captured in this twilight, in the line “and after all this time you look beautiful to me.” Yet, like waking, the lullaby fades and Cory shakes off the sentiment in the EP’s final breakdown: “And why do I keep pushing the conversation off / cuz maybe being with you is better than being lonely / For the time being it will do / until I find someone better than you.” In these penultimate lines, there is the reflecting pool of Blasphemy in all its negative space: an arena where Liner is stripping apart the layers of a past life, and playing with the textures of her own place within- and without- its bounds.
Blasphemy is out now wherever you listen to music. It is a fabulous, painful experience that doesn’t shy away from the palette of colors afforded one’s heart, and I can’t recommend listening to the full thing enough. Check it out today, friends.~
Review by Bobby Guard