H.D.U.

Fire Works

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

New Zealand's High Dependency Unit call themselves psychedelic punk rock. Somewhat misleading, the self-applied term could provoke thoughts of ugly hybrids. Punk Floyd sounds like a bad concept, as does Stiff Little Elevators. Ditto for Subterranean Pillow. What HDU actually sounds like is a powerhouse rock trio, a predominantly instrumental one, that doesn't so much align itself with the trickiness that math rock implies as they vaguely suggest it or loom above it. With their ultra-accomplished musicianship, they could easily blow holes through any given band that tries its darndest to apply as many bizarre time signatures as possible. Tristan Dingemans, Neil Phillips, and Constantine Karlis have more in common with bands like Shellac and Band of Susans, bands that can apply textures and hypnotic passages just as well as dynamic, riff-based passages. As a matter of fact, it's the slower, less crunching third of Fire Works that impresses most. The middle of the record, a ten-minute stretch comprised of "Giant Overpasses" and "Sasparilla," is where you should head for evidence that HDU is anything but a garden variety rock band; the latter displays a masterful control of effects and feedback, using a slow-motion teeter totter effect to such a wonderful extent that you all but forget the jackhammering aggression of the preceding songs; it only melds directly into "Sasparilla," continuing the off-kilter nature with subtle electronic bleeps, eerie clusters of noise, and a persistent drum pattern. Where oh where is an American label to release their records? Mogwai not for sale; hunt down HDU instead.

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