Lucid Culture


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