Bone of Contention

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When you hear the powerful, dissonant blast of "R-Byte Mock Fry," the first cut on Bone of Contention, it's hard to believe that the album could possibly all be this confrontational. Surprise! You're listening to what is probably the most accessible and conventional cut. The Semantics pulled no punches anywhere on this amazing release, which ranks with the most daring and successful examples of avant-garde rock. Elliott Sharp's guitars and basses howl, pound, and occasionally soothe; Ned Rothenburg blows up a jazz fury on not only saxes and clarinet, but ocarina and panpipe, and it's a measure of how good he is that he can get demonic riffs out of the latter two instruments. Samm Bennett pounds the heck out of all sorts of drums, often playing in time signatures that at first seem to have nothing to do with the rest of the music, but somehow make sense. It's an overpowering sound that can leave a listener sonically bruised and exhausted, but amazed at the passion, power, and inventiveness of it all.

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