Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Banned Books Mission Creep on Stumparumper

I've had this Banned Books release on the turntable now for an insane amount of time. It's a travesty for you readers, and apologise. I don't know why it's taken this long to get to it really except that it's completely baffling, I have no frame of reference to approach it, or to many...see it's happening again. There's just a massive amount of sounds and ever changing instrumentation, it's hard to grab onto anything solid and run with it, to put this in any easy category.
Pat from Stumparumper told me about seeing this band live and it completely blew him away so he immediately contacted them about putting out a full length. I get it, it's full of experimental multilayered Deerhoof genius, with Les Savy Fav's style vocals and surprising all out rocking powerchords. So it must have been amazing to hear what they finally ended up doing with a multi-track studio at their disposal, and it's thousand instruments.

The first track, 'The Alarm' tries to ease you into their land of insanity with a melodic guitar line that's quickly interrupted by grating fuzz and gated distortion static and wavering analog synth. This is not going to go in a recognizable way. 'Mission Creep' then rocks in with huge classic grating crunchy guitars and up front vocals. It's their most conventional track, which still isn't without it's surprises. I have to wonder if they're talking at all about the mission in San Fran, but I sort of doubt it. Lyrically it tends to be stream of consciousness wordplay, making all kinds of strange connections.
'Supernatural Mongoloid' even goes where Digital Ash in A Digital Urn did, with it's near overwhelming electronic production. They just have an incredible amount of ideas combining in unexpected ways. From muted hyper acoustic to electronic loops, peaked distorted snare to.... squeeks. You have no idea where this is going one second to the next. How this is pulled off live is a mystery. Those of you in Germany this month will have to let me know
'Wilderness Area' continues to
just completely show off their mastery of weird sounds, the volume of instrumentation is bordering on complete impossibility, it's a monster that keeps evolving in a completely unnatural way. The amount of catchy ideas that are typically packed into a track like this is staggering.
The B-Side gets more Tim Harrington with
'Trophy Wife Sings the Devil's Fanfare', with those layered yelling vocals from 'Rome Upside Down', the base melody gets taken apart and pieced back together. I can't get over the complex instrumentation and effort it must have taken piecing it all back up. It's not all serious though, 'Summer Death Camp' finds BB's taking a joke jam to it's limit, a weird waltzy melody about roasting poison marshmallows, complete with a literal breakdown of smashing glass. Anti-anthem combines electronics and a fuzzed out Dead Meadow classic rock sound, then Black Knot of Plum or Cherry has the style and vocal quality of an old weezer track, but with sounds they wouldn't dream of using.
I'm never any closer to figuring this out, and that's always a good thing.

Get it from Stumparumper with the digital download code of the entire 45rpm 12".
Banned Books has existed for less than a year, yet they have already created a 24 minute musical masterpiece. They're a rock band, but none like you've ever heard. Superb songwriting, brilliant production, and awesome musicianship make for a really really fantastic album. The entire thing is pure, rockin joy, but they still have a control of nuance like no other band I've ever heard. Find me another band like this and you win a prize. But don't try because you won't find one.

Edition of 300 12" vinyl records housed in thick, 100% recycled and hand screen-printed paper sleeves. Includes MP3 download card of the album.
Here's a video from these guys that will give you a little sample of the kind of borderline experimental rocking you can expect from this full length EP? Mini Album? Believe me, it won't feel like it.

Mission Creep from Banned Books on Vimeo.

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