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Business Lady, "Torture Footage"

cover image One of those albums that fits Load’s usual style, this is a disc of punk-damaged goofy thrash that obviously doesn’t take itself too seriously, and even through the cacophony some element of melody does rear its head through the muck.

 

Load

The tracks on Torture Footage stick to a rather similar formula that is this disc’s greatest shortcoming.  With only two of the tracks clocking in at over three minutes, most consist of a blasting drum and distorted bass rhythm, with abused guitar banging and vocals that, for all their indecipherability, often propel a sense of melody in the songs.  The overall sound is a sort of Dead Milkmen meets Lightening Bolt, without specifically sounding like either of the two bands.

Because of their short duration, the tracks never get into a point where repetition becomes a problem.  The tracks are quick to adapt their structure and pacing and bounce back and forth between a couple similar, though different styles in each track.  Tracks like “Air and Water” and “Priscilla’s Bleach Bath” stick to this basic noisy formula with some concessions to melody from the vocals.  However, “I Am Ze Doctor” and “Trick Boots” are a bit less dense and more mellow than the others, even though I’m speaking only in relative terms.  Any other band this would be a sloppy mess, but here, this is a bit of opium during the meth binge.

Perhaps it’s just a similar feeling to a Rorshach test, but some things begin to arise from the chaos, such as the rockabilly elements of “Hell is Ahead” and “Mini Harpyes” that are there amongst the noise, or at least that’s what I hear.  The former’s sound, mixed with the dual male and female vocals bring it more to a bizarre world where the B-52’s are doing Napalm Death covers.

As I’ve alluded to, the biggest problem with this album are that, for all intents and purposes, it could be a single 30 minute track, because there is just such an element of sameness from track to track.  It’s not an unheard of problem, and personally, I have problems sitting through full albums from the Ramones and early Swans for the same reasons.  Picking a track or two here and there makes for better listening experience rather than trying to sit through the entire album at once, in which ones attention tends to wander.  In short bursts, it’s a fun set of chaotic instrument abuse that mixes the noise and melody quite well.

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Review of the Day

EYVIND KANG, "VIRGINAL CO-ORDINATES
Ipecac
As a violinist, Eyvind Kang has played with the likes of Sun City Girls, Bill Frisell, Secret Chiefs 3, Laurie Anderson and many others. As a composer, Kang has carved out a unique position for himself, releasing a series of studio albums drawing on his concept of the NADE (a concept which I won't attempt to explain here, mostly because I don't understand it). The albums combined elements of disparate ethnic music forms with esoteric spiritual ideas, and sudden, unexpected transitions into fully-formed pop songs or long passages of pastoral ambience. I've liked most of his work that I've heard so far (especially 2000's The Story of Iceland), but it appears that Kang has outdone himself with Virginal Co-ordinates, a beautiful recording of an ambitious live performance staged in Italy last year. Kang composes and conducts a 16 piece ensemble—called the Playground—augmented by himself on violin and several guest musicians, including Mike Patton on voice and electronics, Michael White (former Sun Ra Arkestra violinist) and Tim Young on electric guitar. I suppose the inclusion of Mike Patton is the only reason this album has surfaced on Ipecac Recordings, seeing as it's otherwise entirely different from the label's usual output. It's quite an impressive work, split up into ten movements of varying lengths, each gently joined to the next with gossamer instrumental threads. The title of the work evokes images of untouched glacial expanses, secluded valleys and mountains untouched and unadulterated by the progress of man—Virginal Co-ordinates in which the mind and spirit are free to find connections with nature beyond those limited ideas inculcated in us by the artificial strictures of society. The album artwork is pure white, the color of virginity, with a white cobra in the center, appearing poised to strike. The cobra is a perfect symbol for the current of hidden menace that runs through much of the music. There is a spiritual yearning throughout, but it is often joined by vibrating undercurrents of dread. "I am the Dead" transforms into a full-blow orchestral pop song with echoes of Brian Wilson, but its lyrics presage the death and rebirth rituals of the Bardo Todol. Mike Patton's voice lends an ethereal beauty to certain passages, and Walter Zianetti steals the show with his acoustic guitar solo on "Taksim." Elements of Spanish guitar, Indian raga, tonal Oriental scales, film soundtracks and American pastoral symphonies all weave their way into Kang's work, culminating in the majesty of the title track, a magnificent, shape-shifting wall of orchestral noise in which musical phrases from earlier movements are recycled and juxtaposed to hypnotic effect. At 73 minutes, Virginal Co-ordinates is never boring, which is something that cannot often be said for works of modern composition. In fact, its appeal goes well beyond the usual modern classical crowd, and I imagine it would be enjoyed by anyone interested in the transformative and magical possibilities of music. 

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