Let me cut to the chase here: This record has some kinda cool rhythms, and kinda interesting textures, but aside from the single which you may or may not have seen on M2 (“Aisha”) there’s little that’s very good.
With appearances by a Reid brother (Jesus and Mary Chain), Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), Dot Allison (go ahead, say it, you don’t remember her first big group One Dove), and Iggy Pop, how does this disk turn out to be only middling good? Maybe dark-ish, groove-like, techno-rock loses its flavor with each added cook. There’s so many guest musicians listed on each track, you wonder what, exactly, do Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes actually do in this band. Even keyboards and programming are done by other people on a couple of tracks.
Whatever it is Fearless and Holmes are responsible for, Ivo Watts-Russell (This Mortal Coil/Hope Blister) or James Lavelle (U.N.K.L.E.) would tell you its great work if you can find it and not have to do a lot of it.
There’s a reason why some sounds never make it to the typical guitar-oriented record: they’re forgettable, and you recognize these riffs the longer you play guitar or the longer you try to write songs. Sometimes being around a foreign instrument leads to inspiration by way of the untutored novice stumbling upon the things “proper” musicians would look past. Other times, it seems like quality suffers.
I hear this disk and have a hard time not imagining scenes where the digital boy and girl musical geniuses of the world decide they’re finally going to have “live” instruments on their record. “Make one of those blibbery noises here with that pedal, play something heavy on that worn out-looking bass,” they say. And it just doesn’t sound that good. Not in any sort of big dose anyway. The aforementioned blibbery guitar chords and Allison’s voice on “Dirge” sound good, but only for about 30 seconds, which is just about long enough for someone to drop it into a movie soundtrack.
Written by Pearson Greer.