Night of the Killer Longface

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Night of the Killer Longface is one of those records where you're not sure whether the perpetrator is trying to make a lo-fi art statement or honestly doing the best he can in the face of limited skills. It's undeniably eclectic and uncommercial, but in a sort of aimless, sprawling way that's lacking in original or entertaining ideas. "The Caligula Walks" is equal parts Captain Beefheart and Wild Man Fischer, and while nothing else on the disc is as grating, there's a lo-fi buzz to the proceedings that doesn't so much project the authenticity of an auteur as it sounds shoddily produced. Distorted guitars, cheap percussion, irritating novelty effects, and careening electronic swoops fight it out for attention in the arrangements. One can't really complain about it smothering the music, however, since the modestly acid-folkish, lyrically abstract singer/songwriter pretensions of the songs wouldn't hold much interest in barer, straightforward settings. Like many people venturing into this general territory, Misterlee's working in the lineage that can be traced back to Syd Barrett in much of his material (a resemblance that's most apparent in "Kind"), and it's not too fair a criticism to say he's no match for Barrett, as few people are for the acknowledged genius in the field. On top of everything else, however, Misterlee's not a very good singer, capping a frankly uninviting collection of tracks.