James Plotkin's Atomsmasher


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Blurring the lines between grindcore, experimental noise, and in-your-face electronica, James Plotkin's Atomsmasher's debut comes off like a cross between Atari Teenage Riot, Merzbow, Aphex Twin, Fantômas, and Torture Garden-era Naked City. In other words, it's wild, it's noisy, it's jarring, and it will leave most listeners either very happy or very annoyed. Vocalist DJ Speedranch proves himself to be an obnoxious screamer par excellence on the level of Mr. Bungle's Mike Patton or the Boredoms' Yamatsuka Eye, although, in truth, his voice is often digitally processed and distorted beyond the point of recognition. The same goes for Dave Witte's drumming; his effects-treated percussion frequently sounds more like the work of an abused drum machine. Together with James Plotkin's kaleidoscopic guitar-synth playing (he also plays bass), it can be hard to tell who is doing what -- the array of digital skipping noises, crunchy static sounds, distortion blasts, and other miscellaneous debris is not what you'd typically expect from a guitar/bass/drum/vocals lineup. It isn't all noise and aggression, though, as there are several moments of spacy, guitar-generated ambience scattered amidst the chaos. There is also a welcome sense of humor present: listen to how they juxtapose a goofy children's song with an especially grating Speedranch yelp at the end of "Placebo". Folks who require riffs or clearly spelled-out song structures will feel lost here, but this disc should deliver the goods for anyone excited by James Plotkin's Atomsmasher's on-paper "supergroup" potential.

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