Ever since Fugazi went on indefinite hiatus in 2003, there's been a steady murmur from their fans for a reunion, with many hoping against hope that the band would once again create new music. Given this, it was no surprise that the announcement that Fugazi's rhythm section -- bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty -- had formed a new band was greeted with much enthusiasm in the indie music community. And the debut album from Lally and Canty's new project, the Messthetics, will certainly resonate with a certain part of Fugazi's audience. Listeners who embraced Fugazi's more experimental side, especially their travels through dub-like space and guitar dissonance, will doubtless be pleased with The Messthetics. Guitarist Anthony Pirog, a Washington, D.C.-based artist whose background is in jazz and avant-garde music, is the third member of the Messthetics, and while Lally and Canty's playing is as taut, muscular, and expressive as one would expect, it's Pirog's work that gives this music its most distinct aural signature. Though the rhythm section makes this music rock, Pirog picks and chooses between atmospheric extended tones, rapid volleys of notes, and clouds of inspired noise that certainly contain elements of the rock vocabulary but don't acknowledge the clichés of the typical guitar hero. (If Pirog's work recalls anyone, it's Robert Fripp, though mostly in his sense of intelligence and adventure rather than any explicit similarity.) Languid selections such as "Your Own World," "The Inner Ocean," and "The Weaver" are subtle and contemplative where Fugazi was forceful and direct, which may not connect with those hoping to be reminded of Steady Diet of Nothing. And if you're looking for messages, The Messthetics is entirely instrumental, so this music delivers no marching orders, though the clarity of its expression and its joyous risk-taking are certainly inspiring in and of themselves. In short, the Messthetics are not Fugazi, but they are a bold, bracing, fearless band from Washington, D.C. playing music that challenges and dazzles, and that's more than enough reason to make their debut album worth your time.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming