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Comparative Anatomy, "Mammalia"

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cover imageWith their dual bass and drum lineup (in addition to samples and other electronic elements), Comparative Anatomy may sound like peers of Lightning Bolt, but their approach is very different.  Rather than their scum-rock inclinations, CA are more adherents to the absurdist, bordering on batshit insanely comic school of rock.  This is an album where each song has a different mammal as a guest "vocalist."

Mind Flare Media

The earlier pieces are fond of the cut-and-paste random genre abuse akin to Mr. Bungle and the like.  "Peter Rabbit The Great's Carrot Phalanx" starts with horn notes and Casio marching band beats that eventually cut into more conventional drums and grimy synth.  The track then alternates from faux strings-led drama into headbanging fodder.  "Swarm of Camels" does the same thing, mixing sampled non-animal vocals and heavy bass guitar riffs, and even some cellphone ring tones right out of 1999.

The heavily distorted nasal bass assaults and stiff, machine gun drums become a recurring theme, touching every track on the album, for better or worse.  "Elephantality" contrasts this with different rhythms and elephant samples used more as instruments than sound effects, and a healthy dose of Mortal Kombat sound effects.  In "A Car Full of Seals in the Mall on the Day After Thanksgiving," the bass and drums are paired with a bit of chintzy keyboard demo sounds and cartoon music.

My biggest issue is that this formula becomes same-y after awhile.  The thin bass guitar and monotone drum sounds appear throughout the album in relatively the same form, on pretty much every track.  "Puppy Hatred," for example, has sparser beats and undistorted bass passages that are a welcome change, but it's not utilized enough within the track.  In other cases, however, it's not as glaring of a problem:  "Flipper, Summoner of Storms" has a slightly different structure, and with the steady, danceable beat and dolphin noises, the results are more enjoyable and feel less stagnant.  It's not a matter of all the songs sounding alike, but the similarity becomes noticeable pretty quickly

The other dancefloor smash, "Hippo Plus Model on the Runway," is complete truth in advertising when it comes to the title.  Panned hippo "vocals" and what sounds like Tyra Banks samples somehow make a good pairing with the rhythms, and the grinding guitar tops it off nicely.  Unlike the other songs leading up to this one, it relies less on the genre hopping jump-cuts and stands strong on its own.

Considering this is their debut release, the few missteps here are a bit easier to overlook.  It’s a pet peeve of mine when a guitar or drums or whatever instrument sound so similar from track to track, and that is an issue here.  Too often the same sounding pastiches appear that are almost identical to their presence the track before.  Similarly, the cut-and-paste genre-hopping shtick is mostly centered on the earlier half of the disc, so it feels less like a crutch or gimmick than it would if every track did the same thing.  It’s not a groundbreaking album, but one that is fun enough in its inherent goofiness.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 July 2010 14:49  


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