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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SINGLE REVIEW: Fool’s Gold by Stephen Dusenberry

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Stephen Dusenberry is a composer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He was somewhat of a child prodigy, starting the drums at three years old and being offered his first gig at four. At six, he started playing keyboards and writing his own songs then taught himself guitar, clarinet and trumpet. He then spent his adolescence in a diverse range of bands, with his progressive rock band Twilight Machine signed to AFM records while he was only sixteen.

After attending Berklee College of Music he ended up spending two weeks at no.1 on the Billboard charts with a remix of Audio Playground’s Hands Up In The Air. Unfortunately, he was then struck down with skin cancer, with the tumor eventually removed. Upon his recovery, he began work on his most ambitious solo project to date, Steal City. This involved him writing, performing and producing everything purely by himself which led to comparisons with the great Quincy Jones.

This complete artistic and musical autonomy applies to his latest track, Fool’s Gold. In case anyone mistakes it for a cover of the classic track of the same name by The Stone Roses, this is very much an original composition in every sense of the word. It’s an irresistibly funky instrumental that allows Dusenberry to showcase his considerable musical versatility and virtuosity. Starting with a brisk rap of the snare drum, it launches into an instantly infectious groove consisting of brass, organ, piano and synths over a bedrock of water-tight bass and drums.

Aside from the impressive degree of musical skill in performing the track, the intricacy and detail of the arrangement is where Dusenberry truly excels. Like an artist using sparing amounts of colour, many of the instruments make brief cameos then allow another sound to take center stage. The instrumental colour and variety made me think of another autonomous composer/musician Frank Zappa and his classic Hot Rats instrumental Peaches En Regalia. The overall style and sound is comparable to another musical genius, Stevie Wonder.

The main hook of the track is the catchy horn lines that enter straight away, augmented by contrapuntal melodies or supporting chords on either organ, piano or synth. Special mention should go to the crisp, precise drumming and the rhythmic and melodic invention of the bassline. Halfway through, it enters a more sparse section that allows him to build things back up for the second half, which features a brief but brilliant organ solo.

Overall, this is a fantastic instrumental that lies between soul, funk and jazz. Stephen Dusenberry is simply one of those immensely gifted musicians and composers that occur only rarely, and Fool’s Gold captures him at the height of his powers. With a complete mastery of everything he plays and a deep understanding of how to compose and arrange, the result is a hugely enjoyable piece of music that deserves to be appreciated by both connoisseurs and casual music fans alike.

 

VERDICT = 9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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ALBUM REVIEW: Desert Spade by Mary Knoblock

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Mary Knoblock, a.k.a. DJ MEK, is an alternative electronica artist. Since 2016 she has been highly prolific, releasing seven albums in just two years. She followed up her debut Crystal Hallways with the albums Elevate and Champagne Socialists in the same year. 2017 saw the release of One Way, Heart Shaker and Crowns of Gold. This year has already seen the release of Zero to Sixty and now Desert Spade, her eighth album overall.

Consisting of eight tracks of between four to six minutes in length, it showcases the unique compositional method that Mary employs. It wasn’t a surprise to learn that she is also a painter and the technique of layering differing themes and melodies in this way is something she calls a ‘loopestra.’ It’s an apt phrase, as there is a strong classical influence in her work, a passion which she developed during her college years.

This more complex approach means her music stands apart from other electronica, as evidenced by the title track that opens the album. From the outset several different themes, all sonically and musically contrasting, compete for your attention. This would be distracting if it was not so well composed, with the main synth theme standing out amongst the atmospheric effects and chugging rhythmic synths that drive the momentum of the music.

The beat is itself intricate and layered with skittish hi hat patterns emerging at different points. The wealth of musical detail means you hear something new with every listen, not something you can say about most instrumental music.

Second track Blocker is a distinct contrast. It is rather more immediate in nature and at least starts out more simply. Based around two very catchy saw-wave synth riffs and a colossal beat that any hip hop group would be happy to have in their canon, this track is a very effective example of Knoblock’s ‘loopestra’ technique.

It is interesting how it employs repeating patterns yet the arrangement and musical soundscape is constantly metamorphosing so that there isn’t a dull moment. There is a lengthy breakdown section halfway through, which then introduces a funky horn line and it’s these influences from hip hop and soul that further enrich the music. This would be the ideal place to start with Mary Knoblock’s work.

Third track Lions is another six minute epic and, again, is very different to the previous track. It shows the classical influence once more with swirling harpsichord-esque arpeggios over a complex, syncopated beat in an unusual time signature. The last two minutes develop into a section of brooding piano chords which seems apposite for this enigmatic and intriguing track.

Fade is of a similar length but takes us to different pastures, musically. This one has a mesmeric quality achieved by pulsing synths repeating tight melodic patterns and an addictive use of rhythm. There are some really quirky synth riffs throughout that brought to mind the eccentric instrumentals of Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard, A True Star or the avant garde Hot Rats by Frank Zappa. An enjoyably crazy track.

Fifth track Queen of Diamonds is even further out there, with a magical, Eastern vibe. The triplet-infused shuffling rhythm provides the bedrock for one of the most evocative melodies on the album, a synth that sound like chiming bells. The second half has a truly transcendent quality with Knoblock conjuring a dreamy sonic landscape. Next comes the remix of Fade, which is an interesting reinterpretation of the original with a harder hitting beat and the version I prefer, personally.

Sail, the seventh track, is one of the more melodically complex pieces on the album, with a plethora of themes and riffs that cover the sonic spectrum. It starts with a minimalist approach to rhythm, with an off kilter tilt that made me think of Adamski’s electro-blues classic, Killer. It gradually progresses into a full beat and a fascinating exploration of the musical ideas that seeded in the first half.

Closing track King of Spades is equally complex but has a blissed out feel to it and a relatively simple four-to-the-floor groove. It passes through several stages of thematic development, almost like house music crossed with the structure of a classical fugato. It’s another fine example of the compositional and sonic possibilities that have been largely unexplored in electronica, making it an apt way to close the album.

Overall, this is a fascinating musical odyssey created by an artist who takes a unique approach to her art and breathes fresh life into the over saturated genre of electronica. By drawing on eclectic influences from classical to hip hop, she forges new sonic territory and opens up vistas of potentiality. I recommend this to all electronica/EDM fans, especially those who are tired of the homogeneous EDM in the mainstream and are craving something more substantial and adventurous.

 

VERDICT =  8.8 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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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: Tom Rawling’s Old Ladies Peep Show by Brad Geiger

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http://www.bradgeigermusic.com

Brad Geiger is a composer and musician from Los Angeles. Growing up, he lived in seven different towns and this itinerant life continue into adulthood. He spent years travelling across Europe and Australia, living three years overseas. He sees himself as a product of the L.A. indie/DIY scene and is also an author. In fact, this concept album is based on the fictional ancestors of characters featured in his fourth book, An Encyclopedia Of Time Traveling Criminals.

While this may sound like an unusual genesis for an album, the music contained in these eleven tracks is also rather unusual. It’s an extremely unique hybrid of rock, jazz, classical , hip hop and electronica, which has several similarities with progressive rock. But whereas prog-rock is well known for its musically epic proportions and lengthy instrumental solos, Geiger’s music is constructed and performed with the tight discipline and structure of classical music.

This is immediately manifest in the album’s opening track, Tom Rawling’s Old Ladies Peep Show Intro. Based around a jazzy, unpredictable chord progression, the track is built around swirling patterns of a clean sounding, almost jazz guitar-like synth, performed with metronomic accuracy.

It brings to mind the rock/jazz fusion of Frank Zappa who also incorporated classical elements into his music, but Geiger’s style is more symphonic and there is not a note wasted or out of place. It serves as a good introduction to both his inimitable idiosyncrasies as a composer, and to this album.

From then on, the track titles refer to the ancestors of character’s in his book, with the second track entitled Eleanor O’ Grady Rawling. This one shows the more electronic influence in his music, and how his gift for melody is juxtaposed against unexpected left turns in the music. This track develops a brooding intensity as it progresses, as swirling synths compete for attention, interacting in intricate ways.

Third track Alicia Poole O’Reilly takes the electronica style even further with a heavily dubstep-influenced sound of pounding kicks and snares, skittish, complex hi hat rhythms and edgy synths. It’s perhaps the most cutting edge, modern sounding composition here and the drum programming towards the end is superb. It’s brief at around ninety seconds but packs quite a punch.

The fourth track Alicia Poole O’ Reilly is rather more sparse and sombre in tone. A simple but plaintive piano and string melody is contrasted by a very intricate, hip hop influenced rhythm full of syncopations and triplets which gives the music a sophistication that will stand up to repeated listens. A lot of electronica fans will find much to enjoy here with this track, in particular.

Monica Duff Gallagher is another contrast, with a much more upbeat tone and ascending melody with a relatively simpler beat. The insistent way the melody is repeated brought to mind minimalist classical composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass (something akin to Koyaanisqatsi), incorporated into the electronic realm, of course.

Sixth track Rebecca Holt Smith feels like the closest to what you might call mainstream EDM, with a pounding beat that would work on the dancefloor. The synth melodies have an anthemic quality that the leading DJ/producers would be proud to call their own, though the music builds in a more intelligent way than you would find on a standard EDM record.

Angela Meaney O’ Brien is my personal favourite on the album, an intense rollercoaster ride of electronica, thrust along by dizzying synth melodies and an insistent, addictive beat. The way the music progressed reminded me of artists like Jean-Michel Jarre and the wondrous keyboard playing of Rick Wakeman.

Prog-rock fans will particularly love this. Eighth track Kelsey Cohen Powell is a distinct contrast, with a slinky laid back beat and a languid, reflective main melody. The drumming on this is excellent, with a nice groove. You could imagine future hip hop artists wanting to sample it.

Peggy Gallagher is the epic on the album at over five minutes. It starts out in a dubstep style, with a blistering beat featuring rapid-fire kick drum patterns. As it progresses, it wanders into somewhat more ambient, expansive and exploratory territory. The synth sounds start to become more distant and dreamy sounding, and there’s something about the main melody that made me think of Kraftwerk. A fascinating fusion of styles.

Molly Powell O’ Brien sounds almost like a continuation of the previous track, which is fairly common for a concept album, adding to the cohesiveness of the whole. The synth sounds on this one are rather more ‘choral’ in parts, for want of a better word. Another fine track that maintains the compositional high standard of the rest of the album.

Final track Margaret Ann O’Brien Gallagher has a certain emotional poignancy in its main melody, aided by a serene tempo. It has a kind of cinematic effect, akin to a final scene fade out, and I’d imagine probably correlates to an emotional aspect or scene in the book. There’s a nice handling of the music here, with multiple melodies interweaving, and it ends the album with a sense of understated drama.

Overall, this is an enjoyably innovative, quirky and imaginative album, all the more praiseworthy for being released in an era where the album format is a dying art. Fortunately, real artists always find a way and are prepared to go against the grain. It certainly requires a high degree of compositional skill to create an instrumental album that sustains the listeners interest throughout, as Geiger achieves here. While it’s a fine album in its own right, it intrigues the listener to know more about this multimedia project, and I look forward to further work in whatever form.

 

VERDICT: 8.4 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: 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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