legendary pink dots, "traumstadt 1"
LPD fans are once again rewarded for their patience with the issue of a classic cassette-only release. Traumstadt 1 is an important artifact in the history of the Dots and the wait was well worth it. The original release was the first in a series of cassette issues that started off by reissuing earlier deleted cassettes. It was later followed up with other live and studio comilations and even one with all new material. Most of which has surfaced through various CD compilations like Stained Glass Soma Fountains, Under Triple Moons, The Legendary Pink Box, Prayer for Aradia, and the live CD-Rs released on Terminal Kaleidoscope. This one contains the full releases of both Apparition and Atomic Roses, each which first surfaced in 1982. Much like the release of Basilisk, the remastering job is simply amazing, given the original sources were very primitive cassette recordings. Additionally, the annoyance of having a multitude of songs sharing a track is present again. Atomic Roses opens with what was side one of the original tape release. "Part 1" is a collection of six songs, including "Closet Kings," which appeared on The Legendary Pink Box, "Sex," (an alternate version of "Violence," with the words completely different), the charming "What's Next," some playful noodlings and backwards bits. "Hauptbahnhof," (also appearing on The Legendary Pink Box) opens "Part 2," which also includes "Passing Thought" and two early versions of "Atomic Roses." While a number of these songs are familiar to LPD fans, it's an almost voyeuristic treat to hear them in the context of their original work without the overbearing hiss that accompanies the original quiet recordings. One of the remarkable observations any Dots fans can also make from these recordings is how tight the band actually was at such an early point, with a talented bass guitarist, Roland Calloway matched with subtle, primitive synths (uncredited to the Silverman - perhaps he wasn't actually on these recordings), drum machines and Edward Ka-Spel's refrained voice. Apparition is equally rewarding, but more sounding like cute bedroom demos, opening with cheesy video game samples and cheap Casio-like keyboards. Included in each of the mixes are early versions of "God Speed," "The Plague," and the only appearance of "Premonition 3." Despite Atomic Roses listing the members including Barry Gray on guitar and Patrick Paganini (Wright) on violin, it isn't until the songs on Apprarition that the two are prominently heard. It's this combination which later evolved into the sounds on early LP releases that captivated labels like Play It Again Sam and overseas licenses from WaxTrax!, Caroline, and eventually Soleilmoon. The disc closes with a bonus track, "No Bell, No Prize (Version Ridiculous)," only previously available on an obscure various artists cassette compilation and surprisingly appropriate (given the history of LPD reissue) as it's from the same era as the rest of the material contained. Once again, Beta-Lactam's font choice leaves much to be desired, but they did get the artwork from original releases, which is nice to see. Truth be told, I'm much more a fan of straight up reissues like this than aforementioned compilations tossed together from various sources which often omit songs here and there. There's still more stuff left in the vaults from the Dots, like Traumstadt 4, Chemical Playschool 1 & 2, and other odds and ends so let's hope this campaign doesn't end here. - Jon Whitney
The Monkey Power Trio, "Almost Clear"
Pocahontas Swamp Machine Recordings
I'd never heard of the Monkey Power Trio before their latest and eighth release, and that may not be all that surprising. For the past eight years, the band has met in a common location to play and record for one day together. No live shows. No rehearsals. One day together for the purposes of recording a seven-inch single that they will release themselves. They do this without any real knowledge of the instruments they take into their hands even. In what may be the greatest inverse to the theory that poor concept equals poor output, however, these pop gems continue to improve with each release. The MPT honor their original gimmick fervently, insisting they will hold to it until all the other members are dead and the sole remaining member records a solo album. This stuff is just too bizarre to pass up, even though the melodies and musicianship are clearly in the amateur category. "I Love My Life" is a simple declaration with lyrics about strolling the streets of Athens, GA, and a crumhorn that won't hurt the beautiful babies, but then regresses into simple rock chords and screams of the title. "Mike Smith is Evil," on the other hand, is a strange mellow trip into the problem of its namesake, complete with the "evil" vocal delivery and odd synthesizer. It's juvenile, but all in good fun, and represents the finest melody the band possesses on the release. Side B is more of the same, with "Almost Clear" taking a few cues from scientology and experimentalism to create a dreamlike wash, and "Systematic Problem" dissolving it all in a wash of noise and childlike banter. As it fades out, it's reminiscent of when the PRMC would play records backward at press conferences in order to prove satanic messages were within. - Rob Devlin
The recent hype surrounding German labels like Shitkatapult and BPitch Control has failed to implicate these labels? English brother, AI Records, an imprint that has achieved a similar, and consistently exciting blend of vintage electro, house, and IDM as of late. New Town is the first AI dual-format compilation, and all-exclusive, it serves as the perfect introduction to a label whose reputation is clearly not due to the relative obscurity of its earlier releases. The comp provides an archly fluid listen; it's an impeccably picked and paced journey through the AI roster. I was so involved during first listen that I had to scan some of the gaps later to check if the disc was a continuous mix. (It is not.) The music travels from the balls-out, trance-induced techno of Andy Freer who opens the disc, to ADJ's gritty atmospherics, to SWF's aggravated ghetto tech and back in the span of only a few minutes. The sounds of Detroit and vintage Warp mingle most beautifully in tracks by label posterboy Claro Intelecto. Intelecto appears twice in New Town, first with the eerie, Drexciyan electro of "Delete," a song grounded by a single, oscillated, and positively electric synth note, and next with the light, syncopated rhythms of "Breathless," which threatens to drift into sweet oblivion if not for groaning bass underneath it all. Other tracks like Fold's "Donna Hectic" integrate unlikely machine drones into low-level, foot-stomping electro that remains thoroughly accessible; T.R.I.P.'s "Donald Plays Techno" sees cold atmospheric strains butting in on a not-so-subtle disco groove. The common thread, though, is always the songs' emotional resonance, which suffers no shortage on New Town. While other electronic labels may rely heavily on conceptual oddities or alien sound sources to make their records go, AI seems to have its heart planted firmly on its sleeve. Whether or not this is due to the (somewhat) overstated influence of certain Warp artists may be open to discussion, but this cannot detract from the simple irresistibility of everything included here. New Town could be the best, most soulful electronic compilation I've heard all year. - Andrew Culler
Laika, "Whatever I Am I Am What Is Missing"
The new album from Laika couldn't have arrived in a more a timely manner for me and the rest of the Boston-based fans. As I listened to the first song, "Girl Without Hands," words from the chorus sprung out: "White snow is falling down / falls down hits the ground," as New England's first snow of the season fell. Laika's fourth album, like the first snowfall of the season (as anybody who experiences snow knows), is beautiful, but somehow doesn't quite stick the first time. Stylistically, Whatever I Am I Am What Is Missing falls in line with its predecessors: chunky yet elegant instrumentation (live, electronic, sampled and programmed) balanced out by Fiedler's airy vocals and poetic lyrics. However, at ten songs, the new album is more concise than the almost overpacked Sounds of the Satellites and more cohesive than the drifting Good Looking Blues, and this is where it truly succeeds. Overall, it also has a richer, more mature sound. The only place where Whatever I Am seems to be lacking is in the strength of its songwriting. Laika set their own standard for brilliance in this area with tracks like "Looking for the Jackalope," "Uneasy," or "Breather," all of which immediately leap out even after just one listen. Only "Alphabet Soup," with its lilting chorus even approaches being a fresh out-of-the-box attention-grabber, while the other songs tend to fade into the background and get lost amongst each other. This is not to suggest that the songwriting is poor, but simply that there isn't as much that makes for as compelling a listen as what Fiedler & Fixsen have accomplished already. - Jessica Tibbits
THE MAGIC CARPATHIANS PROJECT, "EUSCORPIUS CARPATHICUS"
For the last five years, The Magic Carpathians Project have released a handful of superlative but criminally ignored albums of ethno-psychedelia. The core of the group is vocalist Anna Nacher and instrumentalist Marek Stycynski, who was the leader of the seminal Polish psychedelic-progressive rock band Atman for 25 years. The Carpathians are augmented by a constantly revolving line-up of guest musicians. Their sublime Ethnocore trilogy impressed me with its haunting melodies and deep psychedelic drones, based on cross-germinations of traditional folk of their native Poland together with indigenous music and instruments from around the globe. The Magic Carpathians utilize transcendental combinations of harmonium, hurdy-gurdy, accordion, guitar, violin, sitar and Carpathian woodwinds harmonized with more modern conceits such as vintage synthesizers, tape loops and field recordings. Their unique hybrid seems perfectly in line with the nomadic gypsy culture of Carpathia. The gypsies originated in India and traveled throughout the world, settling in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Great Britain and Southeast Asia, gathering disparate cultural influences along the way. The Carpathians' mindbending new album Euscorpius Carpathicus adds Outer Space to the list of regional influences, concentrating on sparse cosmic settings, atmospheric production and haunted vocals. It's a conscious move away from the massive drones of previous releases. This is clear from the opening track "Fishyfish," a loosely improvised assemblage of Chinese and Slovakian flutes set against the galactic ripples of an EMS VCS311. The ghostly "Lavender, Satin & Gingerbread" features the fragile vocals of Anna Nacher, recalling Bjork's intimate delivery on Vespertine. For "Pawpaw Girl" the multi-tracked vocals are at the fore, as a meandering bass and a forest of gentle chimes answer her plaintive intonations: "Straight to the garden/until I find/a way below the surface/below the waterfall". "Fat Moon" is the album's most evocative track, a 12-minute ambient lunar orbit featuring delicately reverberating guitars and eerie saxophone squeals that leave vaporous trails of ectoplasm in their wake. "Amp.ass" is an atonal clamor of chaotic free-jazz, assisted by the noisy distortions of an overloaded guitar amp. The tense, forward momentum of "Water On the Hill" operates as an invocation to nature, cyclical layers of trancelike guitar ornamented by synthesized birdcalls. With Euscorpius Carpathicus, The Magic Carpathians have expanded their already impressive musical scope even further, without losing that essential spark of creative intuition that consistently impregnates their music with its uniquely spectral beauty. - Jonathan Dean
The Shins, "Chutes Too Narrow"
Things have changed since 2001's Oh, Inverted World. The first full-length from this group took a while to sink into my bones, but after it did, it became one of my favorite albums. Their newest full-length just isn't different enough from their first album to evoke the kind of excitement that every song did on their debut. Everything has been stripped down a bit and where there was a psychadelic taste to the first album there is now a stripped down and somewhat bare base for each song. "Kissing the Lipless" just doesn't have the power and exotic center that "Caring Is Creepy" did and right away that left me feeling a little disappinted. In fact, a majority of the tracks sound as if they are uncomplete or are at least missing some key elements that could make them grand. Comparing this album to the last isn't entirely fair, though. The Shings obviously wanted to go for a new sound and they both succeed and fail with Chutes Too Narrow. "So Says I" and "Saint Simon" both serve as improvements on and developments of what was found on The Shins previous release. They're both full of hip-shaking rhythms and intoxicating melodies and they both have an aura of wonder around them, yet they both remain more atomic and basic than anything that appeared on Oh, Inverted World. This is where each song hinges on beauty and simple decency. At points, like on "Pink Bullets" and "Turn A Square," everything comes together so perfectly that it's impossible not to be dragged in by the raw melancholy or the glistening and jarring guitar parts. But when the stripping doesn't work out, what remains is just mediocre. I have to admit, though, that just average for The Shins is a step above and beyond a lot of the other backwards-looking rock outfits I've heard. This isn't the best album I've heard all year, but it does feature some outstanding tunes. "Fighting In A Sack" and "Gone For Good" are both wonderful and the latter is a particularly great tangent: the slide guitar works excellently with the strained and urgent vocals of James Mercer (his voice is still one of the most attractive things about The Shins). This isn't a bad album, but it is slightly disappointing as compared to the first. That fact won't stop me from keeping this disc around. The Shins are one of the finest bands around and all the minor flaws on this album can't hide the fact that they're superb writers and musicians. - Lucas Schleicher
The aquatic quality of dub rhythms is something I always attribute to the calming effect it has on me. There's nothing better than a soupy mess of beats and semi-melodies to make a rainy day feel complete. Mitek (in the CD form) has put together a compilation of thirteen tracks representing thirteen different arists from Scandinavia. The music is subtle, pulsing, and sometimes a bit tiresome. Each artist has something of a distinct style about them, but there is no doubt that there is a similar influence riding inbetween every musician on this disk. Songs like "P_Process" and "Skm3" are both over six minutes in length and both echo through space like a wet rubber band. Both songs also happen to sound a bit too much alike and after nearly thirteen minutes of nonstop reverberations and painfully similar production qualities, the relaxing quality begins to fade into a bright annoyance that has me reaching to change the song almost every time. Taken alone, the individual songs are good slices of minimal beats, bass heavy melody, and sizzling atmospheres. As a whole, this compilation doesn't really work. The album runs over an hour in length and many of the tunes are simply too abstract to be dealt with one after another. I understand this is supposed to be an introduction to a label full of electronic bass-heads, but it needs to be listened to in pieces to be successful. Not everything is outstanding and not everything is terrible: there are a few great songs and a few not-so-great songs. Just don't think this can be listened to from beginning to end. Doing so will only bring frustration to the surface and spoil what might otherwise be enjoyable. - Lucas Schleicher
"Saturday Morning Empires"
Hot on the heels of Desormais' excellent second album, Iambrokenandremake, Intr_version has released a new label sampler, making clear the label's place as one of the premiere purveyors of pop-infused, melancholic electronica. While there's nothing stylistically spectacular here, all tracks are exclusive, and, as is rarely the case with all-exclusive comps, nearly all tracks are excellent. In addition to its constancy of quality, Saturday Morning Empires also possesses a consistency of style; nothing feels out of place. All tracks nourish a similar vibe in which richly melodic instrumentation provides foundation for delicate electronic rhythms and rivulets of warbling static. A fragile beauty makes even the more sparse or repetitive songs instantly appealing. The heart of the disc, a pristine four-song section of new music from Polmo Polpo, AMute, Loscil, and Desormais' Joshua Treble, includes the most desolate and unchanging music here, though it is easily the best. Joshua Treble's piece is simply stunning, composed of reverb-drenched guitar loops, beautifully layered into a holding pattern and spaced with glitch-laden, finger-snap percussion. Witness the new Vini Reilly. AMute's "Aux creux des vagues mon visage" features a ghostly looped guitar as well, though it rides the kind of twee electro beat and echoed wind-chime tones that groups like Piano Magic do so well. In fact, Saturday Morning Empires' slant is similar to that of many Rocket Girl acts: a dusty, bucolic mood suffused with enough subtle electronics to keep things magical. This compilation differs somewhat in that certain tracks transcend their autumnal roots and really soar. Obvious examples are the contributions of Polmo Polpo and Tim Hecker. The former's "Dreaming (Is Real)" evolves in his unique style, tested on this year's excellent Like Hearts Swelling in which a Neu!-influenced driving beat accelerates through panes of distortion as gorgeous slide guitars push everything into free-falling heaven. Hecker is also working in his tested signature style here, creating yet another fissured landscape of static and straining drones, while sounding as fresh and at home as ever. Even seasoned listeners should find surprises and new discoveries in Saturday Morning Empires, as much a sampler for a great label as it is a great album. - Andrew Culler
Jean Cohen-Solal, "Flutes Libres & Captain Tarthopom"
One would think the novelty market would have fortuitously unearthed all of the world's great flute masterpieces by now. Perhaps, though, there is still room in the annals for two more. In fact, the reason I even hesitate from declaring these the best two is for lack of really hearing any others. Regardless, it happened that in the early 70s, French flutist/bassist Jean Cohen-Solal recorded two largely unheard, flute-dominated records in which his seasoned psychedelic and progressive sensibility met the potent influence of avant-garde and classical ideas. The music produced is as compelling today as it surely must have been at the time of its creation. Flutes Libres and Captain Tarthopom are both arranged in ways that neatly showcase Cohen-Solal talents as an arranger, an improviser, and a tremendously expressive flutist. Flutes Libres begins with the somewhat generic psych of "Concerto Cyclique," a lengthy track that does little but test Cohen-Solal's chops, expansive enough to allow him spastic runs peaking in squalls I thought only saxophones could produce. "Raga Du Matin" is more interesting, dipping into relaxed Eastern territories reminiscent of some Agitation Free and Incredible String Band material. The album's fourth and closing track, however, is the real treasure. Largely atmospheric in composition, "Quelqu'un" is a craggy landscape of organ and theremin-sounding swells, possibly all effected flute sounds, scattered with untraceable howlings, strange drippings, and spooky tinkerings. Flute-blown flourishes and rattled, absently plucked strings rise and fall across the song's 17 minutes, creating a mood that in its dark majesty anticipates the work of artists like Nurse with Wound. (Steven Stapleton is an admitted fan.) Listening straight across, it's hard to notice where Captain Tarthopom begins; the album's first strains are chiming bells inaugurating Cohen-Solal's journey into rich, if less experimental, psychedelic terrain. While these songs do not allow the flutist space to drift as freely as he had on his previous effort, experimentation among different instruments and sounds has increased. The title track opens with a martial brass section rising confidently from an abstract background of bell tones and winding, clicking sounds, similar to the way Albert Ayler's horn rises from chaos. The squawking, chicken-like found sound that ends "Captain Tarthopom" is the first of dozens of unlikely sounds to grace the album's jubilant, flute-driven psych; muffled voice fragments and noisy clatter create a welcome counterpoint to the solid groove of several tracks. Captain Tarthopom's centerpiece comes with "Memories d'un Ventricule," a song whose surrealistic title gives hint at the mayhem to follow. The music picks up where "Quelqu'un" left off, a potent atmosphere of slicing flute whine, organ pulse and operatic vocals, punctuated this time by tribal drum bits and bass roar. A classical reserve is present in this track and most of this second album, denying it Flutes Libres' raw appeal, though allowing for a listening experience equal in its expressive power and even superior in its variety of mood. - Andrew Culler
THE SWIMMING POOL Q'S, "ROYAL ACADEMY OF REALITY"
The Swimming Pool Q's were part of the early-80's Athens scene that spawned R.E.M. and The B-52's. Maybe it was because of their idiotic band name or perhaps it was the witty sophistication of their off-kilter pop music, but The Swimming Pool Q's never achieved a fraction of the notoriety and success experienced by their Athens contemporaries, despite their tenure on a major label. They haven't released an album since 1989, and just when it seemed safe to completely write the band off, The Swimming Pool Q's have released Royal Academy of Reality, an ambitious and masterful concept album that makes anything from their back catalog seem downright irrelevant. This mammoth 20-track, 70-minute song cycle belongs to that rare category of rock albums that are perfectly executed studio creations. As with The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, Love's Forever Changes, or Todd Rundgren's A Wizard, A True Star, bandleader and producer Jeff Calder uses the studio as a canvas, elevating his compositions to the level of genius through a staggering assortment of instruments, sound effects and overdubs. Apparently, this album was 10 years in the making, which, on the surface seems absurd, until the level of detail in the richly layered musical tapestry of each meticulously considered track is heard. While the songwriting is often little more than ordinary, and the lyrics are a bit overwrought and ponderous, Jeff Calder's aspirations to the studio wizardry of Brian Wilson, Phil Spector and Jack Nitzsche pays off brilliantly. The concept of Royal Academy of Reality is every bit as vague and tenuous as those of Forever Changes or Tales From Topographic Oceansapparently it's got something to do with love, death, happiness and Egyptian cosmology. In the end, the concept is not what makes Royal Academy a masterpiece. It's about the pure complexity of its own creation and the seamless ebroideredy of its production: every potential millisecond of silence is filled with sound, not a moment left untouched. Calder's insistence on pure artifice and flawless, crisply reproduced instruments recalls the slick perfection of Steely Dan's Katy Lied. True to form, the album opens with the sequenced synthesizer arpeggios of "Introduction to Time," then segues into the dime-store mysticism of "Light Arriving Soon," a slightly saccharine power-pop song adrift in an oceanic symphony that includes Hammond organ, accordion, Appalachain dulcimer, Mellotron, Arp String Ensemble in addition to traditional rock instruments and layers upon layers of harmonized, multi-tracked vocals. Perusing the liner notes, which painstakingly detail the outrageous assortment of instruments and sound effects used in the overdubs of each track, becomes entertaining in itselfMini Moog, toy piano, tenor sax, congas, Waldorf Microwave, ape bone, fish, bottle caps, Flexitone, shoe gong, etc. ad nauseum. I admire the sheer audacity and ambition that led the Q's to record an album so out of step with its times. In this era of stripped-down garage rock and Powerbook pop, Jeff Calder and company have made an album which gloriously resurrects the progressive chamber-pop of the 70's. A few of the tracks stand out from the othersthe epic sound effects suite of "The Discovery of Dawn" or the sad refrain of "The Radio in Memphis"but most of these songs just blend seamlessly into a byzantine whole, like movements of a vast concerto. I am certain that most will find Royal Academy of Reality to be hopelessly outmoded and convoluted, but I stand in awe of its multifaceted, meticulous brilliance. - Jonathan Dean
Luke Vibert, "YosepH"
As music these days seems to perpetually mine the past for ideas rather than develop new ones, the notion of an Acid Revival or Renaissance has started to emerge. As someone with a real background in the glory days of rave culture and acid house, you'd expect new material from Luke Vibert touted as Acid to be innovative yet deeply rooted in the history of the music. Instead, YosepH, oddly enough his first album ever for Warp, is a journey far away from the dancefloor to a rather deep place somewhere inside Vibert's rectum. While many producers are rediscovering the power of the TB-303 in their club-oriented tracks, the thirteen songs presented here are largely noodly, downtempo, and less than impressive. For roughly half the album, we are treated to forgetable throwaway cuts like "Stan D'Infamy", "Harmonic" and "Slowfast." The other half are listenable, but equally unremarkable. "Synthax" would have some potential if the beat were chunkier and the tempo doubled a la his recent work as Amen Andrews on Rephlex. The somewhat dubby "Freak Time Baby" consists of a steady groove with echoed synth stabs and a pointless vocal. There are a few places on the CD where Vibert's formula seems to work enough to warrant a second listen. The first single "I Love Acid" stands out among the bunch with a super catchy vocoded hook and bubbling bassline. "Countdown" throws together two-step garage with 303 trickery for a funky result that deserved to be fleshed on more on this album. YosepH had some real potential here, and Warp had a good chance to come out on top with the first high-profile, high quality Acid album in years. Instead, we're left with an overhyped release of less than stellar sounds from a label perhaps past its prime in terms of relevance. Let's hope someone else gets this Acid Renaissance right so that YosepH is not the last word on the matter. - Gary Suarez
kinski/acid mothers temple
Kinski's Sub Pop debut Airs Above Your Station is perhaps one of the most exciting records released this year. The rawkus sound and melodic variety, while not uncommon, is amazing to hear when done right. The group is firm in their powerful rock position but they have not lost sight of their modern psych and space rock connections, basically the crowd which embraced them before anybody else. What's presented here is four songs: one each by Kinski and Acid Mothers and two featuring both entities together. It's presented as a single CD or a double vinyl set, with the attempts to weigh each member's contributions equally. The result, timewise, is unfortunately weighed heavily in AMT's favor. Kinski's tribute to Anne Heche, "Fell Asleep On Your Lawn" gets things going and is an excellent tune for fans of their album. It's a 10+ minute demonstration of some bold guitar riffage and thunderous drumwork, both opening and closing on appropriate delicate moods. The two centerpieces of the release are drum free excursions into the otherworldly. "It's Nice to Hear Your Voice" begins the collaborative work and its foundations are clearly more Kinski than Acid Mothers: it's got a forward motion and progressively builds momentum over the course of another 10+ minutes, accented with tablas and hypnotic, dreamlike effects which are not foreign to the Acid Mothers sound. After this point, however, the Mothers take over with their initiated tracks, which, very similar to a lot of Mothers material is meandering, wistful, and colored by drones, theremin-imitating synths, and bit of aimless noodling. While I realize there may be a good number of hardcore AMT fans probably reading this, I have to step in and say that their music is becoming a bit too samey. (Even the title, "Planet Crazy Gold," seems all too predictable.) At least this number has a bit of Kinski left, probably providing the underscoring bass pulses while the vocables twitter in the ether. At 13+ minutes, it goes on way too long. Thankfully somebody got up from their seat at some point to fade it out! (God I thought that would never end! But much to my dismay, things got worse.) The vertigo-influecing "Virginal Plane 5:23" closes the album with another beast of absent harmonic motion, now provided by a psych rock guitar riff repeated ad nauseam. Once again, it's got echoing synth twitters which fade into a distorted mess, and sounds of wordless vocals. It's also painfully accompanied by an overdose of blistering wanky guitar and cheap left-to-right panning effects which border on the completely unlistenable. It continues on and on and on, progressively getting worse. The five-minute mark comes and goes with absolutely no sense that I'm anywhere different from where this song started. I'm reminded how a "crescendo in volume" shouldn't take precedent over a thoughtful development of melody and structure over time (anybody in a rock band that like to make similar music should take note). By about the eighth minute I'm sitting here wondering if anybody playing is actually listening to each other or just playing as loud as they can. Listening becomes laborious. 12 minutes go by, please make them stop! Am I the only one thinking AMT just record all practice jam-sessions and decide to release them? 14 minutes pass and this album now becomes a test of stamina. Had this been a concert, I would have been in the car and long gone by now. 15 minutes pass and it doesn't even sound like the original guitarist and drummer who opened up the track care any more. 18 minutes have elapsed, now this is just becoming sad. I need to take a break but I just can't. Something must happen right? The 20 minute mark comes and goes, as my stomach is now feeling the funk. Speaking of Funk, Funkadelic did this over 30 years ago with "Free Your Mind And Your Ass Will Follow," however they had the assistance of vocals and the decency to end it before 10 minutes. After 22 minutes, the prominent opening two-bar guitar riff becomes prominent again. Hopefully this is a sign of things coming to a close. It doesn't happen until 26 minutes and proverbial mishmosh of complete noise and I'm left feeling the same as coming from a disappointing movie: more concerned about the time in my life that I'll never get back than the money spent. It is such a disappointing end to a release which began with so much hope. - Jon Whitney
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