10/10 Mike Staff review, 06 March 2014
A Jesus Lizard and an Einsturzende Neubauten and another guy? Playing instrumental rock? This is relevant to my interests. The album itself is somewhat different than you might expect, though, far from a rehash of Duane Denison, Alexander Hacke or Brian Kotzur's previous work. This sprawling collection contains a restrained and impressively diverse mixture of improvised and composed pieces with a grittily cinematic feel.
Five of the 15 tracks here are titled 'Improv 1' to 'Improv 5' and are sprinkled in amongst the ten more clearly structured pieces, but they're more than just interludes, the final two in particular whipping up heady, swirling atmospheres of burbling drums and scratching, droning, spluttering guitar trails, restraint and patient repetition ensuring that they don't take a wrong turn into freeform purgatory.
It's the other ten tracks that are the main attraction, though. 'Circles' has spidery, complex guitar playing that weaves hypnotic tangled shapes in the air, 'Act 3' and 'Shadows' see Hacke hacking out thunderous basslines which has more in common with Denison's former bandmate David Wm Sims than his own previous work (although make no mistake, this doesn't sound remotely like a Jesus Lizard record outside of these two tracks), while several numbers head into proper old-fashioned horror funk territory with more than a shade of Goblin and Zombi. 'Neon' in particular channels the former band with disarming accuracy with its round walking bass, panicked keys (I think I detect a subtle bit of voicebox here but I could be wrong) and cascading, chiming guitar chords sounding like some lost cut from the 'Tenebre' soundtrack.
There's a whole lot more happening on this album than I've kind of run out of time to tell you about, but if you're into moody soundtracky instrumental rock music, regardless of whether you're interested in any of the members' former bands, you'd be a fool not to check this out. It's the most ambitious and fully-realised instrumental rock album I've heard in some time.
I'm going out on a limb and saying ten out of ten.
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