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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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Review of the Day

ANTIPOP CONSORTIUM, "THE ENDS AGAINST THE MIDDLE"
For their Warp Records debut, Antipop present a 7 track EP that's done spinning in less than 17 minutes. Warp may seem like a strange place for an MC trio to be, but APC's hip hop is as electronic and forward thinking as anything else on the label. NYC's Beans, Priest and Sayid fastidiously flow mile a minute rhymes, as always, and are as involved in the sparse yet phat production as producer/engineer/arranger/mixer Earl Blaize. "Tuff Gong" gets right up in your face quick, Sayid letting you know within the minute that he "have the need to tell what I see". "Splinter" is as close as you'll get to verse chorus verse but like "Vector", it's a bit too laden with annoying synth notes. Moog and synth lines help propel the instrumental future funk groove of "Dystopian Disco Force". In "39303," Priest testifies, "I write like a man who can't read / feelin' the need / to seize his mind of reason / I spit treason / MCs in season / vets freezin' / I rap like there's nothin' left to believe in / clumsily uneven," seconds before his voice is panned to one channel and digital gurgles fill the opposite one. Next, "Pit," disorients with 2 minutes worth of veering tones, off/on beeps and ping pong ball percussion, then "Perpendicular" adds another 2 minutes of tasty piano and atmosphere enhanced hip hop beats. This disc is all over the place, much like an APC album, but it's all the more obvious in such a short time span. And unfortunately, I'd say only 4 tracks are really necessary (but hey, it's only ~$7) so here's looking forward to the debut album for Warp set to drop early next year. In the meantime, get "Tragic Epilogue" and "Shopping Carts Crashing" if'n you don't already have 'em.

 

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