Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Eyal Maoz’s Edom – Hope and Destruction

Raise your fist. Now extend your index finger and pinky. This album rocks. The second album by Eyal Maoz’s Edom, just out on Tzadik, is a nonchalantly dark blend of pounding instrumental metal and surf music with brooding Middle Eastern flourishes. The obvious comparison is Texas cult instrumentalists Intodown, with a slightly more ornate, noisy sensibility. In this power quartet, multi-faceted guitarist/composer Maoz is backed by keyboardist Brian Marsella (of Cyro Baptista‘s band and the fascinating melodic jazz ensemble the Flail) along with a plodding rhythm section. From the first few bars of the first song, it becomes clear that these guys really don’t have a clue about surf music. But that’s cool. That’s what gives them an original sound. The Yardbirds didn’t have a clue about blues either, and nobody can say that they didn’t rock.

As you would expect from a bunch of guys with a jazz background, they vary the tempos and dynamics. Maoz sets down eerie, often anguished layers of noise and feedback over simple, catchy chromatic vamps. Marsella utilizes several keyboard patches: quavery Vox organ, smooth Hammond and seemingly every bleep and bloop stored within the memory of whatever he’s playing (a Nord Electro seems a good guess). Most of the craziest noise passages are his, although, predictably, the most beautifully lyrical moments – particularly the Vox solo on the fifth track – are his as well.

The best song on the cd is Shell, a terse, catchy, macabre number that sounds like the Coffin Daggers gone to the Golan Heights, especially menacing as the organ doubles Maoz’ sinister guitar line. The best single solo is by bassist and producer Shanir Ezra Blumankranz, on the same song – it’s long and bluesy and deliciously terse and you don’t want it to end. Beyond the chromatic metal vibe of most of the other tracks, there’s also one that nicks a familiar hook by the Cure before going all hypnotic with a two-chord vamp, a bizarre attempt at a bubblegum surf song and a big, cinematic track simply titled Two with a noise breakdown evocatively colored with Maoz’ hammerlike attack. It’s nothing if not original and probably sounds terrific live. Shesh shesh shesh (that’s 666 in Hebrew).

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September 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Intodown – Brave New World

This is the darkest cd we’ve reviewed in awhile, maybe since Black Fortress of Opium’s gorgeously murky debut back in the spring. Aside from a couple of voiceovers and a brief excerpt from a 13th Floor Elevators song, it’s all instrumentals, basically just Texas guitarist Michael Clark’s million overdubs and a varied cast of bassists and drummers. Ominous, awash in reverb and absolutely hypnotic much of the time, this album blends surf music, Link Wray instrumental stomp, 70s stoner metal and noise rock into a constantly shifting morass of sound, less of an expressway to your skull than a moonlit beach road there. If there’s any comparison to one band in particular, much of this sounds like popular 80s indie instrumentalists the Raybeats on really good acid, with occasional echoes of one of Clark’s favorite bands, adventurous Cali guitar experimentalists the Mermen. Clark loves chromatics, maximizing the use of all those eerie tonalities. Melodically, as in much of South Asian music, he tends not to move far from where he starts out, further enhancing the songs’ trancelike quality.

 

These songs are long.  The cd’s first cut, clocking in at a mere eight minutes or so is by the far the fastest, starting out like a surfy version of The Ledge by the Replacements, Clark’s somewhat bluesy reverb guitar contrasting with some surprisingly balmy, bluesy trumpet work. The seven-minute title track starts out spacy, becoming alternatingly sinster and pensive. As with most of these songs, the dyamics here constantly shift and change shape, tension building as the melody rises and then falls, the bassist playing big, boomy chords while Clark builds a heavy sonic thundercloud using an ocean of contrasting guitar textures.

 

Clocking in at just a second short of 22 minutes, the seven-part epic Fire seems to have been tailor-made for college radio, particularly any dj who needs a song long enough for a quick trip to the liquor store and back before it’s time to change the cd. It’s often absolutely mesmerizing in its growling majesty. Much of this is written strictly in the chromatic scale, its loud, fast early sections evoking the dissonant fire of legendary New York rockers Live Skull, later becoming more percussive in a spaced-out, Queens of the Stone Age vein. As it moves on, it grows more ambient with swirls of feedback and natural overtones howling from the amps. As the opening theme comes back around, big beautiful chords looming low underneath, the song ends. “For destruction, ice is also great,” Clark adds. The following cut, Nostradamous [sic] clocks in at a mere 11:29 in the same vein but far more minimalist and direct. The cd wraps up with The Return, all weird washes of noise like a lot of stuff on the late Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright’s second solo album, Broken China, a bizarre series of samples (shortwave radio, disembodied voices and horror movie laughter) way back in the mix. This isn’t something you’d want to listen to while driving – it draws your attention away from pretty much everything else – but it’s a killer headphone album. Also check out Intodown’s cool fanclub site, with all kinds of sonic goodies.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment