Thursday, July 26, 2007

Von Sudenfed

Tromatic Reflexxions

Who would have ever thought that a pairing of Mark E. Smith with Mouse on Mars would be so funky? Tromatic Reflexxions is a dance floor dirty bomb that pounds with sharp, robotic beats while maintaining the ramshackle post-punk fire of the Fall. From the get go “Fledermaus Can’t Get Enough” jitters with what at first feels like a hollow and somewhat antiquated, pre-millennial house groove. There’s something very Trainspotting about the relationship between the fizzling beats and Smith’s drunken rants. But stale it is not, and the simple, plodding pace serves as a primer for the album that is about to unfold.

Each song builds one piece at a time in a post-punk/electronica back-and-forth that dips erratically into Smith’s mumbled mantras before leaning toward Mouse on Mars’ bombastic beats.

“The Rhinohead” hits hard with a disarmingly rich pop cadence, turning crashing alarm clock rhythms into party anthems. It’s the greatest Fall song that the Fall never wrote. Big hooks sweep over sizzling electronic noises that simmer behind the straight-ahead pop structure. “Flooded” blasts with a powerful dub bass that crackles with blown-speaker fuzz while Smith barks nonsensically about DJ’s pissing themselves. If his words made sense the song wouldn’t be as good, which serves as a potent summation of the record. Tromatic Reflexxions thrives on the unlikely alliance of Mouse on Mars’ precision electronics and Smith’s loose and drunken slurs. Their respective dynamics shouldn’t jive so well, but they make beautiful music together.
--Chad Radford

Of Montreal

Icons, Abstract Thee EP

Kevin Barnes used to write songs that shrouded reality in Roald Dahl-style indie rock fairytales, but the pressures of marriage and fatherhood have manifested themselves in some very dark and personal ways with the five songs that make up the Icons, Abstract Thee EP. At times he surpasses the threshold of comfortable listening. But it is human nature to hold rapt attention over such drama and Barnes’ beautiful train wreck of a failed domestic life has become fantastical pop fodder.

An air of tabloid obsession churns in “Du Og Meg” as he lays out what could have been an ideal family life. But as “Derailments in a Place of Our Own” and “Miss Blonde Your Papa is Falling” unfold, the good life turns bad. The arrangements are sparse and plodding by comparison to OM’s heretofore quirky presence and the effects are chilling.

These outtakes from Hissing Fauna… fit together with voyeuristic intrigue. The flawed protagonist tells his story with the same damning lens that captures Britney, Paris, TomKat and Brangelina in the supermarket check-out line. The only difference here is that the tell-all exposés on Icons… are autobiographical. Barnes rakes his own muck to turn his shortcomings into sensationalism.

The percussive weight of “No Conclusion” brings everything to a close with bleak revelation. Barnes sings, “I’ve never been honest with anyone” before unleashing a stream of bleeding-heart emotions. He boldly announces that he’s being disingenuous, but his songs and stories are so seductive that it’s impossible not to be sucked-in.

--Chad Radford

The Coathangers at ISP, Atlanta, GA. Thursday, June 21.