Too many cooks spoil the broth, or so the saying goes. The same ideal holds for artists who try and cram too many influences into their musical brews; the result is usually the aural equivalent of taking an amazing dinner, dessert, and beverages; smashing it all into a blender; and trying to drink the mess -- far less than the sum of its parts would indicate. Party of Helicopters combine seemingly disparate influences on this two-disc set. Mystical space rock crashes head-on into plodding stoner fare, led by metallic riffs and a post-punk attitude reeking of artistic reckless abandon. The closest comparison would be Helios Creed, who has also experimented with similar musical breadth and styles, but the output is more organic, closer to Bob Mould's work if the Dü-gooder was even more diverse and took different drugs. Even though disc number one features the new lineup before Jon Finley departed (originally a limited-edition one-sided LP entitled The First Two Years of Conquering the Tundra) and the second contains more recently recorded work featuring his replacement, Cory Race, this didn't necessitate a whole other disc, as both of them combined could fit on a single compact disc nearly twice. The difference between the two discs is subtle, but noticeable. The first record shows the band coming close to writing actual pop song structures; leadoff song "Bastard Motherfucker" belies the name by being a catchy three and a half minutes, as if Sonic Youth channeled Cheap Trick, and overall tends to follow in this melodic and relatively accessible direction. The second disc is trippier, a fact at least partially attributed to the nearly 11-minute-long "The Conquering," but both records retain the anti-identity identity such an iconoclastic group can maintain. Space and How Sweet It Was is an excellent follow-up to the critically acclaimed Mt. Forever by being just as uncompromising and even more ambitious. No matter what you try and get out of your musical musings, Party of Helicopters provide it admirably.
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AllMusic Review by Brian O'Neill
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2