I’ve been floating on a cloud of great LPs and here’s a couple more to add to the cloud. Disrobics is DNT’s first foray into LPdom, while The Excusable Earthling is the second LP the Pendu organization has put out following the rad NY-based comp long player Getting Rid of the Glue.
Gay Beast hails from Minnesota and is a trio of drums, keyboard and guitar I believe. “What You Want” sets the tone for the rest of the record. Gay Beast play very angularly, almost mathy. Though the mathiness doesn’t sound “prog” at all, it’s more akin to a band like Ex Models where songs are complex rhythmically but come off as seeming tightly crafted rather than showy. “What You Want” is one of the better tracks on the album and is a great example of what I like about Gay Beast, that is they know how to hit the sweet spot. After a frenetic flailabout they lock in and play a really fantastically melodic chorus. One of the things I like is when they hit their choruses it doesn’t feel like a different song. Instead of something like “let’s play a jerky verse and then play a pop song chorus” where the result seems awkwardly mismatched, Gay Beast’s tracks always remain consistent and authentic no matter what sorts of musical tricks they pull. Anyway, sorry for the digression. “Cock” has been in a head to head battle with “Good Government” (which I’ll get to in a minute) for favorite track on the album, and it probably has the edge. “Cock” has a stronger bass presence than the other tracks which really works, the pairing of the guitar’s and keyboard’s lead lines is perfect and there’s a rad chorus that’s catchy as hell. It’s a fantastic song, and at under two minutes it never ceases to leave me wanting more. “Mama, Wrap My Coffin in the A.I.D.S. Quilt Cuz It’s Cold in Hell” is another standout but in a much different way than “Cock”. It’s probably the weirdest track on the album to me because the arrangement and rhythms are quite off-kilter and all the directions the track goes in are hard to follow but, inexplicably, Gay Beast pulls you along making the lack of hooks totally catchy. “Good Government” closes out the A side and is, for sure, one of the best tracks on the record. It takes about 20 seconds or so to cast its spell but after that, man, am I hooked. Keyboard and guitar play unison lines to great effect before an absolutely beautiful keyboard lead jumps out and grabs you by the head. They then proceed to deconstruct their track, before giving the fans what they want and sneaking in a quick chorus before the groove runs its course.
“Cyclops” opens the second side and it’s a jittery affair anchored by a guitar arpeggio in the track’s second half. “3 Pairs of Eyes: Brown, Brown, Blue” would almost seem bouncy if it didn’t obliterate my brain. There’s great guitar parts in here but none of them seem to last for more than a few seconds. “I.D. Politic” is a relatively straightforward track and Gay Beast sound awesome playing the role of the straight man (no pun intended). Regardless of all the changes the track moves through, it’s just a strong, well composed rock song at heart. The same could be said for the next song “Cry” though it barely lasts long enough to write something down about it. The title-track closes the record in frantic fashion. That reminds me, “Disrobics” is the perfect title for this record because it’s relentlessly on the move but only in a way adverbs starting with “dis…” can describe i.e. “disjointedly”, “discombobulated-ly” etc. It’s a cool record, and definitely one that sinks its claws in you a little deeper each listen.
Talibam! hails from New York and is also a trio; drums, synth and sax & electronics (see these reviews are vaguely themed) though they since have downsized to drums and synth. “Explosive Soul” takes the length of the first side. These guys appear to do everything improv-style so you really get to witness something birthed from nothing. There’s weird squelches, loose drum rolls and whathaveyou before things begin slowly to take shape. There’s a lot of convergence and divergence where the group still start down one path only to abandon it for another. There’s this one part that’s so rad where everyone starts groovin’ to this chunky organ line. Props to the organ dude because he’s full these great out of this world, vaguely b-movie inspired keyboard parts. The drummer finds a nice balance between following “the beat” (if it can be called that) and telling the beat to fuck off. I’m not really hearing any sax on this track so I think that guy is pretty heavily involved in his electronics, which cast a smoggy, noisy cloud over the proceedings.
The flipside is also 17 and a half minutes and features “One Way Foot”. It begins the same way “Explosive Soul” did, but from ragged beginnings a flowering of great material shall bloom. The sax seems to make more of an appearance here which, being an appreciator of saxophone, I like very much. The keyboard interjects this really bizarre riff which sounds a little like something you’d here coming from an ice cream truck but sped up a bit. This proves to be a catalyst as the other guys get in on the action. My favorite bit of drumming comes here because, while refraining to bust out a full free form solo, the drummer drives the track without really repeating anything. This jauntiness fades and gives way to a smokier, lo-key passage which is a style that really works for these guys.
A lot of this “total psych freedom” stuff can be in danger being kinda boring and not that great, and though they can move somewhat slowly Talibam! is never boring and they dig up a bunch of neat little nuggets of sound along the way.
The Gay Beast record has fantastic artwork/screenprintwork (I dig the sparkling gold) and comes with an insert and LP labels, Tynan did an excellent job with his first LP. Pendu put together this Talibam! record with the utmost professionalism, with pro-printed sleeves and so forth and it even comes wrapped in plastic. Disrobics is limited to 500 and I’m guessing The Inexcusable Earthling is limited as well, though I can’t locate an exact number anywhere. Both are still available for cheap from their respective labels. Check ‘em out.