The Flesh boasts an upright bass, a theremin, a glockenspiel, an organ, and (unfortunately) a 606 drum machine. Since this recording, the band line up has almost completely changed. Steve Nasi plays drums, proving that humans cannot in fact be replaced by machines, and all of the other members have been replaced except frontman Nathan Halpern.
This CD offers three songs that make you feel somewhat guilty for indulging in the music. The often-chromatic bass lines paint the eerie background over which Halpern sings about the fruit of his loins in a paper towel, his love for purgatory, and creme de la phlegm.
At his best, Halpern’s vocals bear a slight resemblance to Jarvis Cocker of Pulp (e.g. “Swoon”). Albeit a much less refined voice than Cocker’s, Halpern still conveys energy and emotion in his style. At worst there are far too many “la’s” thrown in as filler lyrics (again, “Swoon”). Not to be confused with the glorious cries in the chorus of “Gallows,” the “la’s” in “Swoon” are bland and monotonous. The vocals were further compromised by the production of the recording when a far too liberal amount of reverb was added.
The array of bizarre instrumentation is all arranged to the band’s advantage (except the drum machine). The “oompahs” of “Swoon” create the sound of some kind of twisted circus, and the glockenspiel is fitting as Halpern sings of the children “begging their fathers for candy from me.”
The final track, “Copticon,” is unquestionably the highlight of the disc. The drum machine actually comes close to sounding good, and the sound of the band is most full during this song. The brief time change near the end of the song provides some much needed metric variety.
If you have the opportunity, it would be a good idea to see this enthusiastic New York quartet perform. Just make sure there will be a live drummer at the performance.
The Flesh: http://www.putontheflesh.com