If you've had a chance to check out this band's demos on MP3.com, you might have some idea of what to expect from this strange little release. Right from the start, you know you're in for something a bit different; the packaging is quite elaborate. The CD comes in a large, hand printed folder, with the liner notes printed on an insert stuck inside.This particular package is apparently limited to a thousand copies, and all of the art is drawn by the frontman, S. Murray Solida (AKA Stained Glass Wendel). As for the music, the whole thing kicks off with a strange electronic landscape called "Orange Door", over which is narrated a pleading, disturbed tale in the first person by a mental patient. Is the voice that of a woman, a man? Hard to tell, though methinks there is some elaborate studio trickery at work! From this introduction, it's straight into a roaring, four-to-the-floor barrage called "We Can Build You", a good old fashioned Gothic rocker, carried by a well-crafted and relentless fuzzed-out bass guitar riff courtesy of the curiously named Frater Locust. Is there a Play Dead fan in this band? This is by far the loudest song on the disc, though the intensity rarely lets up throughout. It's all very dark, there are hints of psychedelia here and there, and imaginative electronics play a prominent role. There are a few moments of almost-but-not-quite-pop songs, such as "Another Girl, Another Machine", a song you could dance to, if it weren't for an ear-shredding electronic bridge. If you have a chance, check out the MP3 version, though, as the album version is, I think, made a little inferior by the inclusion of a drummer, a decision which seems to water down the mixture a bit (I have it on good authority that the drummer was a one-off for this record). There is a nice little number called "...Said The Ticktockman" based on the famous short story by speculative fiction author Harlan Ellison. This is a sort of quiet piece, somewhat recalling the older solo stuff by Edward Ka-Spel. Come to that, if you like the Legendary Pink Dots, you'll probably find something to like here, as well. My personal favorite on the disc is the epic-length "The Prayer Machine", which starts off nicely enough, with a sing-song intro that tells of a host of characters who find themselves resorting to the convention of prayer as a form of escape. >From there, the track shifts mood and meter incessantly, until it winds up in a strange sort of musique concrete over a bizarre 7/8 rhythm. It would almost sound like prog-rock if it weren't for the spooky Virgin Prunes-like vocals and ambient noises that weave their way in and out. Some mention should be made of the guitar work on this disc; Performed by Pox Incurable, it is very far removed from the standard goth or industrial fare. No crunchy power chords here. Instead we are treated to a swirling, psychedelic performance, somewhat like the style of maybe Colin Newman, with more than a hint of Syd Barrett or Daevid Allen of Gong. It always seems to be exactly the element required to lift a good song into something special. Good work. All in all, this is a disc you will be able to listen to repeatedly, and discover new things each time, and of how many other records could you make such a claim? Not many, in today's scene, I'll warrant.
You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and purchase the
disc direct from the band for
paltry ten bucks (includes shipping) or by writing to:
Ol' Scratch Records
PO BOX 2209
Scottsdale AZ, 85252