The Lowdown

Revolver II

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The debut effort from the Strange Attractors Audio House label is some sort of mess -- and for some, it's the kind of mess they'll love, given how the Dada-inspired cover art pretty accurately captures the blustering and off-kilter mess within. Suggesting everything from the Residents' knowing deconstruction of the pop music aesthetic to the scrabbling four-track classic rock mania of Guided by Voices, the Lowdown first and foremost pursue grating, unexpected noise. The trio's addiction to melodies and riffs prevents them from being Merzbow, and they're not quite as open about alternate-universe rock stardom as Brainiac, but somewhere in all that the culprits find their own weird realm and proceed to stake a claim. With end results like the genius lo-fi murk and roar of "Saved by God" interspersed with random snippets of further noise creation -- keyboard jams, screeching static, and drum breaks that aren't -- Revolver II certainly doesn't resemble its namesake that much. Skronking saxes and other horns suggest free jazz touches, but Albert Ayler this isn't (John Zorn fans might be amused, though), while the collapsing mayhem of "Big Man" and the herky-jerky stumblebum roustabout of "March of the Gnomes" find their own caveman-with-computer logic. The vocals don't change the overall impression much in terms of intentional chaos -- they're twisted, turned, sneered, tweaked, buried, stretched out, and otherwise beaten within an inch of their lives. The weird thing is that they are indeed trying to make harmonies at points -- or at least trying to sing along together, and succeeding pretty well at that. Brian Wilson might still have something to say about the end results on songs like "Extra Special Existential." There's actually a straightforward song with "Mr. X," but its nursery rhyme synth pop dinkness somehow still sounds more wrong as it goes.

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