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Chef Menteur, "The Answer's in Forgetting"

Chef Menteur’s second full length retains the sense of a group setting obscure crossword clues while working out what their equipment will do. The sound is deeper and tighter but doesn’t completely abandon post-space-drone- audio-collage.

 

Backporch Revolution

Alec Vance and Jim Yonkus remain from Chef Menteur’s 2005 debut, We Await Silent Tristero’s Empire. That’s all well and good, but Dan Haugh’s drumming and (on one track) Brian Abbott’s banjo and sitar, bring fresh energy and discipline into the mix. Not that either of them seems responsible for the biggest surprise: the first bars of this album feature Vance simply strumming an acoustic guitar. Given the band’s previous catalogue and performances it’s as unlikely an opening as if they’d covered “Do You Think I’m Sexy?”

However, The Answer’s in Forgetting does not completely kick out the jams. “Parasitic Oscillation” goes back and forth between darkness and nothingness in a pointless manner before providing perfect contrast to ”Tonalli,” which swings in on percussive breaks and a lovely piano figure. “1491” scorches along like the comet of that year which came closer to Earth than any other. Again the track provides neat contrast when it bleeds into “I.E.D.,” a Mogwai-esque excursion that shows the benefit of Haugh’s dynamics and actual melody in the guitar lines. If they keep this up they’ll write an actual song with verses and a chorus!  As if to scratch that thought, the subdued drone of “Goodbye Callisto” follows— an ode to sandals, a nymph, a moon, or more likely a tribute to Xena’s nemesis. “OT III” ends the disc in a brief punchy swirl of banjo, sitar and synth which perhaps references the band’s “Oceanic 23” track from a WTUL radio compilation, or not.

Some of the pieces here rival Chef Menteur’s finest earlier track “W.A.S.T.E.” which used the voices of New Orleans trash collectors as the basis of a sublimely rhythmic nod to Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49.  Given a pleasing penchant for the obscure it can only be a matter of time before they title a piece “Remembering the Octahedron”.

For now the band eschew lyrics but, given that they (or possibly just Vance) enjoy linguistic puzzles and literary references, that too could change. Best keep a dictionary handy, anyway, as they understand the value and fun of naming a track “Trebuchet” rather than, say, “Shoebox Diorama.” With The Answer’s in Forgetting and Potpie’s Potpie Plays the Classics the back porch revolution continues to gain momentum.

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The Eye: Video of the Day

Sunburned Hand of the Man

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Review of the Day

Voks, "Vaks Vanskab Ak"
Dekorder
For the second Dekorder release, Denmark's Voks delivers a 3" that lacks Un Caddie's adventurous sound-grabbing, but is no less colorful. With former releases including a spot on Goodiepal's V/VM 7" series, Voks makes intensely na?ve computer music, revealing an obsession for toy instrument sounds and dawdling, childlike rhythms. These songs are not playful in the punky, campy style of artists like DAT Politics or the oddball fringe of the Sonig label; instead, Vaks Vanskab Ak is more of a mood piece, despite its more flamboyant qualities. Tracks reject dominant melodic roles; rather, sounds scatter in loose compliment of each other, haphazardly forming recognizable motifs, like the loose Middle Eastern feel that invades songs like "Hottenslot" and "Tuuie." The disc acts like a scatterbrained attempt at scoring an absurdist's animated short, full of swift mood swings but with enough open space to imply corresponding action or visual reference. Vaks Vanskab Ak would make a perfect backdrop for the bizarre puppet show pictured on its cover in which skeletal figures ride elephants and giant chickens, though I'd warn against extending its 20-min. length. Voks shows a charming command over his arsenal of tinkering toys and popping synth sounds, but a move to larger format will require a further consolidating of ideas and perhaps some NyQuil for the manic inner child who gets carried away ad nauseam on a few of these.

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