Monday, September 28, 2015

Revolt Revolt's Wild Unraveling on CD

I think for the most part, psychedelic garage rock is much harder to perform than it looks. It's one matter to play loose, sloppy and with a presumably and capriciously open mind, but it's quite another to do it without falling prey to excess. Revolt Revolt, a quartet from Boise (is this the first Idaho band I've reviewed?), has most of the important elements preserved--heavy reverb on the vocals, lots and lots of jamming and dense production values that favor noise and feedback--but the band takes it a step further by introducing more contemporary touches from drone and industrial playbooks that offer a cleaner, more focused approach.

On this new five-song EP, Revolt Revolt pays homage to everyone from early Pink Floyd to some of the more imaginative grunge bands of the '90s. What makes the band stand out, among other things, is singer Christopher Bock's rumbling, coarse baritone. It takes up residence somewhere between Michael Gira of Swans and Andrew Eldritch of Sisters of Mercy, deeper than expected and sort of weary, but with slightly contained sense of menace. The rest of the band is solid, confident and able to free-associate, which comes from all of their experience in other bands--guitarist Mike Muir also plays for Nightlife and Trees, bassist Jake Frederickson also plays with Obscured by the Sun and Bliiss and drummer Ben Wieland play with Jumping Sharks. Bock's been all over the place--Treepeople, Geyser, The Magnetics and even as a solo artist.

The opening track, "Catch the Light," starts off with a two-chord approach that may borrow liberally from Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," but as the song progresses it spreads out and gets fuzzy around the edges--enough to suggest Lou's time with the Velvet Underground instead. The other four songs have that distinct edge, but the last two songs, "Every Day Youth" and "Never Fade" emerge as sort of a suite, starting off with a spoken word piece that might remind you of the more political songs of the Flobots--or one of those eerie set pieces that manages to sneak onto every Tool album. The final song develops into a rather standard jam session until the fade out, and a long silence, and then the hidden track finale which offers everything from an operatic soprano to a lingering litany of sound effects. It almost doesn't want to end.

As with all EPs, Wild Unraveling feels like a calling card, a list of prerequisites to attempt something hopefully not too far in the future that will allow a little more time and depth to flesh out these interesting ideas. In a work this short, however, there's a completeness about it all that might be lost on a 70-minute CD. For its brevity, Wild Unraveling is worthwhile and fun in a dusty, old dirt road sort of way.

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