Well, here, let’s just jump to the Bandoppler album review from Nov of ’99.
Where are the Wise Men Where are the Scholars
1999 Talking Donkey Music
Sometimes when you are a music writer you get really, really, really bored with everything out there. But there is always THAT band that comes along and reminds you of why you got started in the first place. Such artists as Havalina Rail Co, The Wednesdays, Ninety Pound Wuss, Frank Black, and Danielson have been those bands for me in the past, providing the inspiration that it takes to keep going with all of this reviewing jazz. But no band stands out as my personalÂ muse more than Nobstreater, a band that painfully describes themselves as “Emo-Math Rock.” They demure to this tag painfully because they must know how binding and unfair such a label can be. For this band is anything but taggable, and leaving their freshman EP in the dust, this new album is anything but pigeon-holable. This is 13 tracks of right brained frenzy, with more creative and diverse nuances than Rembrandt could shake a mullet at.
First off, Nobstreater is violent, with screaming [non-hXc or emo] vocals and driving beats. But Nobstreater is also weird, provocative, hilarious, unpredictable, joyous, and beautiful, with upbeat tempos, playful riffs, gentle croons, silly whispers, and insane breakdowns. Never has such mayhem been organized so carefully, never has such melody been offered so harshly. From the first scream to the last whisper, Nobstreater does one predictable thing, they rock you. That is about as consistent as this album gets. Every song has a distinct personality, that is coupled with amazing song writing ingenuity and instrumental mastery. I challenge anyone to find a band with as much technical skill that is actually doing something as original as they are.
The most ingenius facets of this album are found in the production nuances. Ralf Hoggaboom moves away from the mic at times to give a canyon cry effect to certain portions of songs, and then pounces back on it to bring a startling reprise. There are also lots of lo-fi innovations in the production, that ad a very peculiar flavor to the overall sound. Sometimes you could swear that the levels are turned down too much, but then they pop back up with such determined precision that you have to believe that any production “flaws” that exist are intentional. With all of these odd, against the books, production effects, the whole of the album is given a sound that is as unique as the band and the songs themselves. And all of this innovation is done with three instruments and a lot of experimenting.
It is hard to pick a standout song, because they all hit at different levels, and it is really in the eye of the beholder to determine which angle appeals the most. But, if I had to pick some personal favorites, I would go with “Violent Corbitt,” the most playful song on the album, and “Sensitivity II,” which offers a pleasingly sung opening that turns into one of the most dynamic spoken-words you will ever encounter.
This is a long review, but it is really hard to quickly touch on every facet of this band, because they are so complex. You would do well to just buy their album and sit down for about a week with it on “repeat,” until you have soaked up the entire musical landscape that they paint. I will make one more comment though, one of the coolest things about this band is how they have fuzed old-school rock-n-roll with furious passion. Trying to discover their influences would be futile, but one can not help but hear some Buddy Holly in the mix, of course, we are talking Buddy Holly on a stretching rack…
This album gets a perfect score in my book, it is beyond everything else out there. If you think this is a whitewash, you are right. I would be terribly humiliated if I tried to criticize anything about this album though, because this art is so beyond my pallet. Actually the French Impressionists would probably appreciate Nobstreater, because I don’t think any human has painted such deliberate chaos since them.
This album is available for free download. Donations appreciated.