Stand Before the Firing Squad

Noise Machine

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Difficult as it may be to consider Stand Before the Firing Squad's Noise Machine deserving of an "album" qualification when its ten tracks last just over 22 minutes, the sheer compositional breadth and instrumental complexity contained herein easily exceeds what most bands can muster in entire careers. Perhaps far more than most bands would want to muster, actually, given the eclectic but often chaotic results that will undoubtedly polarize listeners into separate camps torn between "so wacked its brilliant" and "so wacked, I don't get it" conclusions. Curiously, the most frequent examples of conventional -- or at least coherent -- songwriting on hand encompass smooth lounge jazz numbers like "Light 'em Up and Knock 'em Back," "13th Song," most of "The Shadow Whisperer," and numerous portions of songs in-between. Otherwise, it's spastic, post-rock grindcore and mathcore workouts that prevail, with the group continually peppering any given song with unexpected (some might say unnecessary) extra seasoning, for example: funk riffs and pseudo raps ("When Long Days Run into Late Nights"); ambient safari sound-tracking ("Upside Down in a Snow Covered Bank"); underwater reggae ("Eloi, Eloi"); and so on and so on. In light of all this, at least Noise Machine's Dali-esque cover image starts to make perfect sense -- even if the music itself may not. A brave experiment nonetheless, this trying sonic adventure isn't recommended to just any musical tourist, but rather the fearless explorers of its as yet unmapped outer fringes.

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