ALBUM REVIEW: La Symphonie-Thrash Du Professeur Juif Rebelle by The Gangsta Rabbi

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http://www.gangstarabbi.com/

The Gangsta Rabbi, a.k.a. as The King of Jewish Punk, is the moniker of the multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, composer and producer Steve Lieberman. He was born in Brooklyn, New York to a working class Jewish family and now resides in Freeport. Perhaps more than most artists, his work needs to be understood in the full context of his life.

He has been considered an ‘outsider artist’, partly attributed to his lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder which began for him at the age of just eleven. He has been releasing studio albums since 2002 and has now released over thirty, along with live albums and countless cassettes. He has shared the stage with Weezer, Andrew WK, Glassjaw, Ryan Dunn and The Misfits, but had to retire from performing in 2011 owing to having to battle an advanced form of leukaemia, returning briefly to the stage in 2016.

Last year, he was admitted into a hospice and remarkably has carried on creating, producing his most challenging works including completely covering Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick (a major influence) and thrash metal versions of the British Opera, The H.M.S. Pinafore and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

This album, La Symphonie-Thrash Du Professeur Juif Rebelle, is his magnum opus, clocking in at thirty one tracks with a duration of over three hours. Apart from its remarkable length, it also sets a record for most instruments played in a symphony (eighteen!). The instruments involved cover a wide range including thrash guitar and basses, alto, tenor and bass trombones, flutes, trumpet, clarinet, euphonium and melodica as well as drums and percussion.

The first piece, L’espirit de Rebellion, sets out the album’s essential signature sound; a tsunami of sonic textures and frenetic drumming that borders on the chaotic and makes compelling listening from the outset. Although it teeters on the edge of musical chaos, it walks this tightrope effectively by retaining a melodic core throughout.
This basically fuses the essence of punk/metal spirit with the instrumental medium of classical music, and it results in abrasive yet consistently exhilarating soundscapes.

As with alternative rock bands like Sonic Youth and The Jesus & Mary Chain, who buried their melodies under layers of howling feedback, The Gangsta Rabbi’s music rewards repeated listening and this is the case with second track Mange Merde et Meurent (which translates as Eat Shit and Die!). It melds raw Stooges-style electric guitar with relentless thrash drumming and a dense wall of organic instrumentation with clarinet and trombones dominating the texture.

Third track, the amusingly titled Je Desire Une Basse Avec Un Whammy Bar, continues the riot with some rapid fire double kicks and some inventive Frank Zappa-style melodies and variations. Indeed, Zappa saw himself as a modern classical composer working in the idiom of rock music, and there are definite parallels here with Steve Lieberman. Like Zappa, Lieberman enjoys pushing the envelope, exploring the avant garde and juxtaposing unusual musical elements together.

La Carte de Recrue d’Aaron Judge and Hall’el Soixant-Trois both clock in at around eight minutes and continue the signature style with subtleties and details in the music that reward careful listening. As with his last album I reviewed, Lieberman’s work can be compared to the more challenging works of music by Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) and the more outré offerings of Lou Reed. Beefheart’s album Trout Mask Replica sounds like a chaotic sprawl at first, then the order gradually reveals itself.

This tension between order and chaos, dissonance and melody and also the textural difference between raucous and soft is the fundamental dichotomy that lies at the heart of his music. These tracks notably feature his distorted lead vocals, and it’s no surprise that he approaches singing in a unique, idiosyncratic way, bringing to mind another avant garde rock artist, the late Mark E. Smith from the British group The Fall.

Le Jardin des Chiens is a ten minute epic that reaches a tumultuous climax, with some woodwinds seriously wailing against a piledriving musical backdrop. Woodwinds also dominate the following Holocauste, especially flute and clarinet and vocals emerge once again around the three minute mark. This piece flows seamlessly into Trois Petits Chiots, which almost feels like a sequel or companion piece with a similar theme.

Owing to the constraints of length, I can’t focus on every track but other highlights that stood out for me were Le Quartier Cancer #3 which is a sustained sonic hurricane that lasts nine minutes and which I perceived as an emotional expression of anger and rage at the struggle of being faced with leukaemia. This is followed by Le Professeur Juif est mort (The Gangsta Rabbi Is Dead), a title which certainly shows he has not lost his sense of humour, a testament to his fortitude and spirit.

The raging energy continues through to the end, with La Petite Jeunne Fille-Juife having one of the most distinctive melodies along with M.C.T.M.T. and the relentlessly frenetic but thrilling Mille-Neuf Cents Quatre-Vignts Et Neuf (which translates as 1989 but presumably has no link to the Taylor Swift album of the same name!) The superbly named Bonkey Sur D’an lives up to its title with a delightfully eccentric melodic theme that brings the woodwinds to the fore once again.

The final track La Chanson De Merde Vit (translating as The Shit Life Song) is a rampaging ten minute musical climax where it seems like all eighteen instruments are playing at once (probably the case). It feels like a defiant middle finger to the mortality we all share and it’s a glorious one.

Overall, this is a remarkable, challenging artistic work that blends thrash metal with avant garde classical to create music like nothing you’ve ever heard. It’s the sonic equivalent of standing in a wind tunnel for three hours. To have created such an epic musical tour de force in his dire health circumstances is an example of the power of the human spirit at its finest. Hopefully, The Gangsta Rabbi, a.k.a. Steve Lieberman, will get to be fully appreciated within his lifetime.

 

VERDICT =  8.4 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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Watch a video about the 18 instruments on the album:

 

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Gangsta Rabbi’s Thrash Opus – Year 1812 Fest. Overture In EbMAJ by The Gangsta Rabbi

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http://gangstarabbi.com/

The Gangsta Rabbi, a.k.a. as The King of Jewish Punk, is the moniker of the multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, composer and producer Steve Lieberman. He was born in Brooklyn, New York to a working class Jewish family and now resides in Freeport. Perhaps more than most artists, his work needs to be understood in the full context of his life.

He has been considered an ‘outsider artist’, partly attributed to his lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder which began for him at the age of just eleven. He has been releasing studio albums since 2002 and has now released over thirty, along with live albums and countless cassettes. He has shared the stage with Weezer, Andrew WK, Glassjaw, Ryan Dunn and The Misfits, but had to retire from performing in 2011 owing to having to battle an advanced form of leukaemia, returning briefly to the stage in 2016.

He has been fighting the disease for the last seven years, which has had a pronounced effect on his artistic output. Every album has become progressively heavier to reflect the internal struggle of living with this terminal form of cancer. This year, he was admitted into a hospice and remarkably has carried on creating, producing his most challenging works including completely covering Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick (a major influence) and a thrash version of the British Opera, The H.M.S. Pinafore.

This work is based on Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and preceding Opus numbers, with Lieberman playing every instrument himself. The instruments involved cover a wide range including thrash guitar and basses, alto, tenor and bass trombones, flutes, trumpet, clarinet, euphonium and melodica as well as drums and percussion.

The first track is a riotous sonic explosion from the very start. Dense layers of low-end distorted guitar and bass are augmented by double-kick drum patterns and frequent cymbals, proving the thrash element. A plethora of orchestral instruments create a fierce wall of sound, carrying the main melodic theme in unison or in octaves.

For the most part, the melody is submerged yet discernible amongst the onslaught of distortion and instrumental texture, yet towards the end we clearly hear the recognizable theme of the finale to the overture, an effective dynamic. The music is undeniably challenging, walking the tightrope between order and chaos in a way that reminded me of the more extreme and avant garde works of rock like Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music or Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart.

The following tracks maintain this essential approach, with Opus 44 – Russian Folk Song and Opus 45 – 2nd Solennelle pushing the envelope even further, the latter particularly manic yet strangely cohesive in its melodic dissonance; with less distortion it could pass for one of the more far out instrumentals of Frank Zappa, another outsider artist.

It is also apt in a sense that Lieberman has chosen to reinterpret Tchaikovsky in this way. The great Russian composer was also a rather tortured person who struggled all his life with emotional turmoil and depression. For Tchaikovsky, composing and performing music was a cathartic emotional release which reflects in the intensity of his music, and this intensity is magnified exponentially in the hands of Lieberman.

The Battle of Borodino stands out for the stridency of the low end brass that has just as much bite as the wall of guitars and 3rd Solennelle continues in the same vein. Theme Aus Overture somehow finds another gear, giving the music a sense of fierce momentum and climax, with the theme from the finale emerging through the howling storm of sound.

The finale, Battalion Closer/Fanfare is an epic fifteen minutes that ramps up the relentless intensity to immense proportions. The drone of the guitars sounds like a jet taking off and the recognizable theme of the finale emerges at the same point as the first track. This time, it expands into another nine minutes of anarchic dissonance melded with melody, which goes through countless permutations before the two main themselves combine in a kind of tumultuous fugato.

Overall, this is an uncompromising and completely unique artistic reinterpretation of a well known classical work that is visceral yet compelling. The Gangsta Rabbi has forged a musical style entirely of his own, one rooted in his own life experiences and unique approach to music making. The fusion of thrash and classical is not one I’ve ever encountered and this will be appreciated by aficionados of the avant garde, in particular. It goes without saying that to have created and recorded this in a hospice with advanced leukaemia is a heroic feat in itself.

 

VERDICT =  7.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Kvetch by Rubin Witz

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Rubin Witz is a guitarist/songwriter (and fumbler of bass and keyboards) hailing from Seattle. His music is a unique fusion of genres, which Mixing Engineer Jeremy Serwer describes as ‘off-road jazzy stunt rock’ or simply ‘out-jazz’. More specifically, it’s a potent meld of jazz, rock, folk, Americana and indie strongly influenced by two avant garde artists who fused rock, blues and jazz, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. Lyrically, there is an influence as well, with the dry, sardonic humour of Zappa and the verbal prankster style of Beefheart.

Indeed, to fully appreciate this eight track album it pays to be musically and culturally literate, with references ranging from Thoreau and Nietzsche to the A-Team. Musically, while in parts it hits the surreal heights of the Captain’s uber-bizarre magnum opus Trout Mask Replica, generally it is more along the lines of his later more accessible Doc At The Radar Station era. The quirky vocal style by longtime collaborator Tragic Jack Jorgenson is more in line with Zappa for the most part, delivering with deadpan wit and understatement.

It starts with The Inadequacy Of The Light Of Nature, beginning with arpeggios on clean jazz guitar, then combined with some biting lead guitar courtesy of Patrick Carmody. As the music shifts through some angular chord changes, the first lines show Witz uses words in the same challenging and intelligent way as he does music: “As we work in vain for what we think is transcendent, Thoreau not thorough enough, Everything not forbidden is now compulsory”. No one could accuse him of dumbing things down….

Next comes a section of wall-climbing guitars and Zappa-centric jagged riffs before settling down into a dreamy slow-paced section. It circles round beautifully to the opening introductory section and a final verse. A restlessly inventive opener.

They Never Left is another fascinating condition of jazz and blues, with a rather melancholic lyric about people seemingly trapped in one place. It features some great accents and syncopations, punctuated by brass with murmurs of mournful viola throughout. Witz mostly employs fairly simple time signatures, but the rhythmic variety in each section is very creative.

Duelling Mullets is perhaps the most manic piece of Trout Mask-esque musical Dadaism on the album, melding disparate sections in a riotous manner. It starts out sounding like Tom Waits fronting a metal band on crystal meth, gorgeous but brief laid-back guitar interludes and intense heavy rock duelling with blues and progressive jazz. Tragic Jack really sounds like he’s channeling the great Don Van Vliet when he roars, “There hither – the whiskey witch, guard your loins against her pitch.”

Living Downtown is simply a continuous fireworks display of jazz, blues, soul, funk and rock with spoken word interventions that add a little more to the avant-garde vibe. This musical kaleidoscope is highly influenced by the colourful sound and intricate arrangements of Zappa’s classic Hot Rats.

Ubermensch in the Yurt perhaps sums up Rubin Wits best, and feels like the centrepiece of the album. It is where we first find our album title, captured in the hilarious lines: “Rainy days don’t always, if ever, get me down but Mondays often do. The ubermensch in the yurt won’t spend the time to kvetch. If we do the rain god might come down and gonna smack us, come down harder than B.A. Baracus….”.

As with the first track, the lyrics appear to be satirizing the sanctimonious tone of New Age spirituality: “You told me things in this lower, preliminary state that engage our interest are transitory and corruptible but I told you I lived in a yurt, so….”.

This highly humorous lyrical tone continues into AYTD (Amusing Yourself To Death) with inspired lines like, “That prison scrawl decorating your phalanges tells me that you bathe in East L.A.’s spiritual Ganges….”. The backing vocals are absolutely superb on this one, with some dizzying electric guitar near the end before exploding in a brass blowout. The title track is a gem, a slinky fast-paced piece of out-jazz with a truly bizarre second section and lyrics simply described as ‘standard non-Gentile kvetching’ (kvetching is complaining, for the uninitiated.)

The final track There Must Be A Murder, is perhaps the most accessible thing here. It’s the closest to a traditional song albeit one about a strong dislike of the sleep disturbing qualities of crows! Perhaps unexpectedly, it delivers a fantastically anthemic chorus that Kings Of Leon would be proud to have in their arsenal: “I’m angry at the crows for breaking us….”. It’s the albums epic at six minutes and a fantastic way to finish, with a storming final section.

Overall, Kvetch is simply one of the most original albums I’ve ever heard. Taking the abrasive, avant-garde edge and wilful surrealism of Beefheart and Zappa, combined with his own natural gift for melody and unique lyrical style, Witz has created a heady musical brew that repays the listener for repeated listens with intricacies that keep you coming back for more.

VERDICT: 9 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Two Fingers In A V by Wasabi Fire Alarm

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https://www.wasabi-fire-alarm.com/

Wasabi Fire Alarm are a band hailing from York, England with quite a unique history and formation. They formed in 2017 when vocalist Sue Egypt (a moniker inspired by the Captain Beefheart track) decided it would be fun to form a band at a Musication course, which inspires ‘recovery through music’ for people with major life issues including homelessness, addiction and mental health difficulties.

This resulted in their first incarnation as Resistance. One early band member, Sin Bad, had made the news in his own right, from living in a tent next to a main road, captured in the song A Dying Man Lies Homeless. When Sin Bad left to pursue his own career, the remaining members formed Wasibi Fire Alarm in March 2018, and this song is from a mini album of the same name, released in May 2018.

The song combines their influences of experimental rock such as Slint, Pere Ubu and Captain Beefheart with heavier influences such as Deftones and Rage Against The Machine. Rhythm section Mike and AI (drums and bass respectively) form a solid platform and funky groove for Neil (The Offender) to overlay funk and rock/metal guitar to great effect.

Vocally, Sue Egypt is reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux, Gwen Stefani and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, delivering a performance full of barbed spirit. The song is about not fitting in and teenage rebellion, highlighting the importance of maintaining this rebellious spirit in life. Lyrically, it brought to mind the edginess and outspoken style of John Lydon: “Last girl standing, and I’ve still got something to say….I am not part of this, I spit on your fashion and popular culture and your small talk and your fake concern…”.

Overall, this is a superb track from a band fizzing with musical and lyrical ideas, fusing their eclectic influences in a way to form a genuinely original hybrid. For fans of experimental rock and indie, I highly recommend adding Wasabi Fire Alarm to your collection and I look forward to future releases.

VERDICT: 9.1 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: Sex Robot by The Wyatt Act

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http://thewyattact.com/slamrock-manifesto/

It begins with a slinky groove and a dark sounding low-end synth that perfectly suits the nature of Guinevere Q’s lyrics. On the surface, it could be simply about the dominant perspective in a BDSM relationship: “You do what sex robot says, I’m gonna make you beg…”.

Putting my pretentious journalist hat on, knowing that The Wyatt Act has political leanings, I wonder if “Sex Robot” is about how technology is increasingly taking over our lives, suggested by lines like, “Gears and levers and cranks and wires and metal….”.

Either way, the technological vernacular of the era used gives the song an icy modernism: “Control Alt Delete, your memory is weak, rendered obsolete, I function, you bleed”. The repetitive chant of the title has a mesmeric effect and Guinevere Q’s passionate vocals weave in and out of angular Zappa-esque trumpet and sax lines, which are dazzling in certain parts.

The overall effect is an intense, claustrophobic musical atmosphere that borders on unsettling, yet utterly compelling, in the same way as David Lynch’s Eraserhead.

The Wyatt Act plays SlamRock, a fusion between performance poetry and rock and roll. Their sound is highly original and they belong to a lineage of alternative, avant-garde music that stretches back to Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart in the 1960’s. I also felt that there were aspects from quirky bands and artists such as Talking Heads, Patti Smith, The B52’s, Sparks, and The Fall, who fused poetry with angular rock.

The Wyatt Act is a sonic universe unto themselves and I hope that they continue to push boundaries, both musically and lyrically. In an era when free speech and freedom of artistic expression are under threat, their transgressive art becomes of political and social importance.

VERDICT: 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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ALBUM REVIEW: W.A.D. by Cellophane Superstars

a1432423914_2http://cellophanesuperstars.bandcamp.com/

Cellophane Superstars are far from your average group. They are an alternative rock/avant-garde duo consisting of guitarist Aaron Kaplan and producer Ryan Summers, based in Central Wisconsin. They have an unusual backstory in that the members came together after their experiences involving religion and a New Age Cult.

Aaron, raised a Jehovah’s Witness, risked alienation from friends and family to escape from the church’s teachings. Ryan, although raised as an atheist, became involved in a New Age U.F.O. cult. Their songwriting centers on the emotional difficulties involved in the deprogramming process involved in leaving such mentally abusive groups.

This all sounds a deadly serious background to a musical project, but in fact Cellophane Superstars have a great deal of humour in their inventive music. They, to my mind, belong in a lineage of great American eccentrics, stretching back to Captain Beefheart (whose Magic Band also contained recovering former cult members), Frank Zappa, Sparks and They Might Be Giants, the latter two both being quirky duos also.

Genre-wise, they are hard to define, mixing rock, dubstep, pop, metal and electronica, sometimes within the same song. It starts with an ominous sounding introductory track that begins with the rantings of a preacher while church bells toll, before a pounding dubstep beat kicks in. Over dissonant low guitar chords, we hear a lengthy scream then the repeated chant “Just another W.A.D…..praise be to God….”.

Next comes the quirky pop of Swans Are Singing, which is seemingly about someone being entirely unaware of the situation of they’re in (possibly referring to cult/religious brainwashing).”This cocoon you made for yourself is about to be split in two….” goes the verse, driven along by rhythmic piano leading to an offbeat but catchy chorus: “The swans are singing in your ear, but somehow you don’t hear…”.

The spacey synth sounds in that song get free rein in third track The Flood, taking up the first two minutes of the track. A pulsing four-to-the-floor beat leads to a gorgeous section of swirling, classical-style piano arpeggios. This is an impressive and actually quite haunting piece of music, blending genres in an original way and featuring a fine vocal performance.

Next comes the title track which turns out to be one of the heavier songs on the album, with an almost Nine Inch Nails ‘industrial rock’ vibe as angular guitars and riffs duel with each other. The hook is gloriously simple but effective. It seems to be genuinely seething with anger as you catch lines like “Keep your head down, keep your mouth shut, that’s all they want in the end…”. The final minute is bizarre, the music speeding up as we hear female orgasmic moans over a jolly synth melody then a lengthy primal scream far more convincing than a thousand metal bands.

Dark Reflection is an epic at eight minutes long and further expands the electro-rock template with the melancholy lyrics full of regret: “If I could look silently and see what might have been, if I would turn the clock back and wash away my sin….”. There is a genuinely poignant moment halfway through as the music becomes hymnal and we hear the final refrain, “It’s a dark reflection, nothing to see…”, before it brightens up with a stomping beat for the last minute.

Imaginary Numbers is the Superstars at their craziest, bringing to mind the more eccentric moments of Todd Rundgren’s legendarily drug-fuelled A Wizard, A True Star album. Indecision, track seven, is slightly calmer but still bursting at the seams with all manner of demented noises. Musically, it is like a psychedelic waltz, but with a sense of claustrophobia, like someone wrestling inside their strait jacket.

As Seen On T.V. is a depressing/funny song that veritably drips with sarcasm, satirizing the mind-numbing effects of television and the general intelligence of the many people seemingly hooked on it. It features some absolutely gorgeous acoustic guitar work in the middle (the musicianship is of a high standard throughout). Audio samples from T.V. programs add to the satire, with, of course, a subtle dig at religious channels. Don’t Tell Anyone is rather more disturbing, a deathly slow ballad seemingly about child abuse: “Just tell them crashed a bike into a tree…we both know I didn’t mean to hurt you…“. The final minute explodes into life but the effect is menacing rather than uplifting.

Next, Some Human’s Ain’t Human is like psychedelic hip-hop but it’s a bad trip we’re on here, a mangling of electric guitars doing battle with electronic glitches and drones. The hook is one of the most memorable on the album and this track is perhaps the definitive example of the Superstars’ electro-rock fusion. Baptism By Immersion again references their difficult past and the mind-control that religions and cults involve, in a slow-paced epic with the telling lyrics “You gotta drown yourself to save yourself….” and at the end, “there is no final solution…”. Heavy.

This leads into the final song Worlds Between, a melancholy tale of resignation about a failing relationship consisting of just acoustic guitar, accordion and vocal for the most part. About five minutes in, a beat kicks in for one last uplifting chorus, and just when you think it will build into a guns-blazing climax, it peters out into a minute of bewildering sonic weirdness. And somehow that’s the perfect ending.

Overall, this is a very good, often challenging album that mixes and hybridizes musical styles in a genuinely inventive and original way, but also manages to traverse a wide emotional range. They come across as alternately humorous and eccentric, deadly serious and even morbid, sardonic and sometimes simply sad. It adds up to an emotional journey that takes some strange twists and turns but Cellophane Superstars have a story well worth hearing.

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.4 out of 10

ALBUM REVIEW: Modnar by Subterralien (released October 2014)

SUBTERRALIENSubterralien (great name) is an electronica artist from Adelaide, Australia , formerly one of the members of Noise Puppets. The music he makes, which is all instrumental (at least on this album), is impossible to pigeonhole as it defies categorization, being a unique blend of various electronica genres melded together. One word that does suffice is psychedelic, and listening to this debut album Modnar (released in late October) can make the listener wonder whether someone has slipped some mescalin in their tea at times!

For the sheer weirdness factor, it can be compared to such psychedelic classics as the LSD-drenched A Wizard, A True Star by Todd Rundgren and the truly bizarre Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart. Modnar is the word ‘random’ backwards and that is apt as, although the music isn’t entirely random as such, it is constantly shifting under your feet and heading off in different directions.

This is the case with opening track Mr. Hungry, seven minutes of intense, frenetic beats and quirky, angular synths. The drum programming is very intricate and strangely mesmeric but at first there is no obvious melody to latch on to. Around a minute in though, a catchy riff kicks in before it all goes wonderfully psychedelic and a voice tells you to ‘just lay back and enjoy the ride’. It’s good advice, and the next five minutes explore some wild sonic territory.

Next track Lurger Time is slower paced but just as trippy, as if the acid is just kicking in. Sinister sounding basslines and eerie synths collide with a kaleidoscopic swirl of electronic melodies. Third track Madspace has another apposite title, and was a highlight for me, beginning with skittish hi-hats and mind-bending synths then developing a distinctive and catchy bassline that put a smile on my face. Like the rest, this piece evolves and morphs into different sections, ending with a blaze of bleeping arpeggios.

After a surreal intro featuring spoken word samples Slapstick Maverick is the closest thing to a standard dance track on the album, featuring a frantic four-to the-floor beat, though the reaction to this played in a packed club might be interesting. At nine and a half minutes long, Mangoloid is the epic on the album, and impressively holds the attention throughout, featuring some superbly detailed and intricate drum programming.

Who Knows is a beguiling listen with a particularly bonkers synth line and constantly shifting rhythmic patterns and time signatures. With its pounding techno kick, it could be considered a dance track, but good luck trying to dance to it. Bendy Arcade also has dance elements, the frenetic beat could almost be classified as drum ‘n bass for certain sections. I enjoyed the descending bass around the four minute mark, and the sitar-like synth that brings it to a close.

Sim U Later explores a slightly slower, darker sonic universe. A moody, restless bassline pulses the track along whilst haunting synth lines build, meander and meld in the background. It starts to get busier at it progresses but there is a more low-key feel to this one, as if representing the comedown of the acid trip, the journey back to earth.

Then again, it seems Subterralien has saved the weirdest till last with the brilliantly named Offal Chef , the finale of the album. Large amounts of the track contain no beat and resemble the psychedelic sound collages of Captain Beefheart’s surreal partner in crime Frank Zappa (circa Lumpy Gravy). It’s a disorienting but absorbing listen and a fitting end to proceedings.

Overall, this is a sonically adventurous and highly original album that challenges the listener and explores some weird but wonderful musical territories. Without wanting to sound portentous, it’s music that reflects the era it was made in, an era of humans creating machines and creating with those machines. If your taste in music is more in the vanilla/mainstream category then this album is perhaps not for you, but for those bored of cookie-cutter chart music and endless predictability, why not take a trip down the rabbit hole and experience some music that will blow your mind? It’s quite a trip.

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8 out of 10

 

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