This album has taken me a very long time to review. I have struggled a bit to really get a handle on it, even though it isn't that different to the band's last album Vampires Are Real. Then it struck me what the factor was that was holding me back: it's the band's seeming attempt to be like the High Llamas gone crazy.
From the opening Freemasons, that layered, crafted sound is there and it's mashed together with all sorts of odd cheap synth sounds, Church bells and what sound like fairground samples and other oddness to get you ready for the onslaught of madness to come. So light up a big one and get on down.
Portal To Hell may just be that if your idea of hell is to have the High Llamas with a screamo vocalist opening. This gives way to a bit of introspection before the pounding drums come in and all sorts of oddness happens to take it somewhere very different and yet with that very Llama-like tune buried underneath it all until the weird rapper comes in towards the end and then all bets are off.
Dark Matter sounds like they have taken a disco song and added tribal drums and then wondered how they can make that sound really nasty. They even have what sounds a bit like a metronome in the background as Doug Cheatwood's vocals become more insistent. This sure ain't no disco; more a discordant state of dissolution that needs Satan's own choral evensong and organ to bring us back down.
Book Of Lies opens like a nosebleed techno banger but with vocals and no auto-tune and while the four to floor drums continue the mad synths descend, mashing brains in, different directions almost like Drumf struggling to tell the truth from the book of lies that he normally reads from, the four to the floor breaks down and goes tribal for a bit before the chorus brings them back in and ramps things up towards the end.
Misanthropy opens with Doug's vocals going all Sean O'Hagan: almost falsetto and with restrained synth that of course doesn't last too long as we need some swampy techno and fairground synth noises to confuse and amuse. And yes, that is that a steel pan drum being sampled.
Girlfren isn't a Jonathan Richman cover but a weird dreamy synth-wash psychodrama that threatens to go totally bonkers but holds back as you have a Girlfren coming for you...
Caligula has oddly treated vocals, weird background noises and guitar blurts, plus a little contortion like stained sheets are the order of the day. In a minimal techno squelch fest.
Supercollider is certainly a musical collision course. It's mad techno that out does They Came From The Stars I Saw Them at the most out there and melds in High Llamas goes grebo vocals and techno splashes, distressed guitars and assorted other madness. I like an ending, which seems to go a bit Silver Machine in places and Funkadelic in others. No wonder it's the single off the album. The video is here:
Unicorn In Love is laptop glitch-core madness married with whooping and basic drums to a chanted chorus of "Unicorns In Love." You'll probably want to dance to this at 3 in the morning after a couple of Adderal too many. Waste My Time slows things down a bit making it sound all the more like a High Llamas out-take especially as Camellia Delks' vocals have a Stereolab-esque feel to them. It's also the most accessible song on the album if you've never heard the band before.
Meatstar almost sounds like Wiseblood with its motorik beat but then the synth noises and other madness takes it off and back in the main chorus part to being Wiseblood on acid while almost sharing a tune with Freak Star by Steve Wynn. That's only during the chorus, though, and with loads of other stuff thrown on top it certainly makes for a memorable finale for the album.
If you by the vinyl you then get a bunch of bonus tunes, but as I have not heard them, I can't tell you how badly you need them. Nonetheless, if you like truly bonkers music then find out more at:
Bastards Of Fate online