Artist: The Unknown Instructors
Title: “The Way Things Work”
Label: Smog Veil Records
Release Date: 9/20/2005
“The Way Things Work” is the debut album by the Unknown Instructors which by their label are listed as a Punk-Jazz-Rock Experimental Super-Group and if you think that the specification is a lot to absorb just wait until you hear what’s happening on the CD. The sound is unlike anything that I had ever heard and that’s because it blends the elements of Jazz with Punk and also freeform spoken word poetry which when blended together deliver something that is not easily enjoyed or even understood with one simple listen. The fascinating project finds Mike Watt on bass, George Hurley on drums, Joe Baiza on guitar, Dan McGuire on vocals with special guest Jack Brewer offering up additional vocals. According to the press release that I dug up when listening to the album the entire release was recorded during one involved four hour session and all of the vocals were improvised. This made it rather interesting to absorb because how does one define good or bad on something where so much creativity is pulling the musical understanding into different shapes and forms that are not often done together. This might not be something for everyone, but I feel those lovers of the Progressive vibe might be open to it or those who lean to the extreme Avant-garde Experimental sort of things. As I mentioned this piece of music cannot be clearly understood after a single listen and I myself had spun it several times before I even had any semblance of an idea about it. I think if you are someone who appreciates those who bring difference to the musical table might enjoy it the most while those who have a clear genre classification that they abide by should give this a pass. They wouldn’t get it nor be expected to.
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Artist: Ayin Aleph
Title: “Ayin Aleph I”
Label: Invencis Records
Release Date: 11/4/2008
Genre: Gothic Metal/Experimental
I’m generally the type of music fan who considers themselves as open to many different facets of the heavy music genre as possible and yet despite this viewpoint there are occasionally those releases which manage to confuse me just a little bit. This happened to me when I placed the CD “Ayin Aleph I” by the Gothic Metal chanteuse Alyin Aleph in my player but before I go any further let’s talk a little about Ayin herself to gain a better understanding about what she is doing. The singer/composer was born and raised in Moscow and has been playing piano since the age of four. She clearly has an incredible voice based on the compositions on the album, but she also does a lot of weird tricks with it and goes from guttural growls to almost childlike whispers and even comes off as different people during the same song at times. There is a lot of use of high falsettos and then deep ominous lows that for me take away from what she is trying to do because I would have preferred to hear how she did the conventional Symphonic Metal thing since she definitely appeared to have the talent to lay that down properly. The numerous different aspects of her voice made this a rather confusing listen for me, but I could clearly be in the minority here. The band is solid and based on the way she plays with her voice in an almost random manner on each track you might feel that the music is uneven from what she is doing against the musicians, but in the end she seems to be doing this on purpose and has constructed the tune in this fashion.
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Artist: Tub Ring
Title: “The Great Filter”
Label: The End Records
Release Date: 3/2007
Genre: Experimental Rock
The Great Filter, LOL, I don’t think so – there’s no filtering at work on the mass of musical influences that proliferate this release by Tub Ring, their first on The End Records. Yet for all the sonic pastiche at work here the Chicago outfit manages to produce a completely unique experience with superb playing, cool songs and tongues planted firmly in their cheeks. In short, “The Great Filter” is great FUN, and an album that gets the job done “old school style” in under 45 minutes leaving you plenty of time to go back and hear it again, and you will want to hear it again.
On stage Tub Ring come off like the menacing bowling team that unfortunately plays the lane right next to yours. They’re an aberrant bunch of 21st Century greasers who very purposefully disturb the peace and might even spill a can of Schlitz on your girlfriend. Even so, when push comes to shove and switchblades are triggered they reveal combs not stilettos. After a few sheepish grins and a pat on the back the next round is on them. They’ll be your friends for life.
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