Wednesday, October 29, 2008


When one thinks of the state of Colorado, many images come to mind. Skiing, rock climbing, and any other type of nature type activities. One also thinks of film festivals and Robert Redford. One, however, does not think of abrasive, noisy, punk influenced underground rock. Even Jello Biafra had to move to San Francisco to get the Dead Kennedys going.
Well, things have obviously changed. Meet Recumbents. Their name is defined in the dictionary as: 1. lying down; reclining; leaning; 2:inactive; idle 3 :Zoology,Botany. noting a part that leans or reposes upon its surface of origin-adjective 4:a recumbent person, animal, or plant etc.-noun.
When looking at the various definitions for this word, one repeatedly encounters the idea of "non-uprightness", a sort of debilitated type of existence, inertia, etc...
This is a perfect example of a bands' name suiting the sonic image they project. There is a sense of alienation, unease and futility. In an email exchange prior to this attempt at exposition, the Swedish group Brainbombs was listed as an influence. This is felt to be only partially accurate. There is the similiarity of riff mono-mania at work here, of driving the same guitar part into your brain. But whereas the Brainbombs are infamous for their highly x-rated and down right nasty lyrical exhibitions backed by a feeling of drug induced schizophrenia, the Recumbents appear more suicidal. This is not a put down but more an attempt at poetic interpretation.
Their musical exhortations are definitely American. There is a certain understanding American bands seem to have. Think of the MC5, think of Iggy and the Stooges, Mars, DNA, etc....This is not to say that other countries do not produce good rock bands. This is obviously not so. But other countries have their own types and ways of rocking out. What is being presented here is the "American" rock flavor.
Recumbents are a two piece gender combination. To quote from The Holy Dedd Foxx: "I play guitar... sing the dude parts... She (Kitty Genovese) plays drums (which you mostly can't hear...) makes some noise, and sings the girl parts. Live, she sometimes also plays a crappy casio keyboard and some back up guitar." Also according to The Foxx, the fact that the other half of the band is a woman is "pretty damned exciting."
In short, they rock. For a two piece they accomplish a lot, even in the limited environment of a 3-song myspace demo. There was, reportedly, an actual hard release that was felt to be out of line with the bands "studio intentions" and so quickly ignored by the band. The player has been active since last October.
They excel at stomach-churning riffs, especially the Harshest Buzz, with its unwinding spring quality, and endless seasickness, entropy and self-loathing. We actually felt somewhat nauseous for a moment and conveyed this info to the band, which induced much mirthfulness and merry-making into the proceedings. Oh, how we laughed.

Check 'em out at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

part two: on arab on radar

It is in Arab On Radar's sound that the real interest lies. Discordant and very trebly, repetitive with no real melody in the vocals, just a high pitched, jerky speaking/yelling style. But yet it is somehow the most impressive sounding thing ever.
There is real benefit to be had from repeated exposure to this music. The entire recorded output for the band is somewhere in the vicinity of two hours, and a dvd was recently released on the label.( This label is also responsible for recently re-releasing two albums of Arab's own music as well as music by the Chinese Stars, a later group comprised partly from members of Arab. This band is currently quite active in Providence and elsewhere.) There are four discs of Arab's music in total. The names for these are "The Stolen Singles"(3.1.g.), "Queen Hygiene 2/Rough Day at The Orifice"(3.1.g), "Soak The Saddle"(Skin Graft), and "Yahweh Or The Highway"(Skin Graft).
The above discography is chronological in an historical sense. That is to say that two albums are re-issued and one cd is not even an album in the proper sense of the term, but literally a collection of all the bands individual singles, like 7 inches and whatnot. This disc is of course "The Stolen Singles."
From the outset one is hit by a sense of the unexpected. The music is forceful and thoroughly unique. Hypnotically repetitive and timbrally jarring, the music presents a "rock-n-roll" experience unlike any other, sounding more like the accompaniment to a nervous breakdown than traditional rock music. Each guitar locks in with the other, each playing specific repetitive patterns that counterpoint the other. These figurations bear little resemblance to the root-fifth-octave power chords that so completely dominate most rock styles. Instead we are confronted with
angular, repetitive lines of a highly fractured rhythmic quality. At times these lines take on a quite hypnotic aspect. This last especially calls to mind the last track on Soak The Saddle, with its broadly concieved, quasi-glissando that climbs and falls gradually, breathing like a giant bellows. This broad, arcing line is offset by a higher pitched faster line that repetitively snakes back on itself. The oblique and subtle rhythmic interplay between these two parts develops a specific rhythmic matrix that is fulfilled by the drum part, which accents the two lines in such a way that at first appears to be contrary to all logic but after repeated exposure reveals itself to be the perfect logical extension of the guitaristic proceedings. The subtle intricacies of rhythmic interplay between the two guitars is highly intriguing. Very clear repititions contain subtle shifts that seem to demarcate sectional changes, endings and the like.

This band existed in a state of artistic innovation. This music is not for those with narrowly defined sensibilities, as a broad concept of the POSSIBILITY of music and an ability to let go of preconceived notions, no matter how thoroughly grounded they may be in perceived academic erudition and acceptability is absolutely necessary. To maintain such an attitude in the face of ones learning requires the necessity of acknowledging the facts of history, and these facts dictate that in almost all cases theory has followed, not lead, practice. Today's movement begets tomorrows reflection.

Go to Arab on Radar's myspace page: