Language Is Technology
Insidious Plot Audio
Sometimes it seems as if everything is in its “post” phase. Our critical theory is postmodern, our economy is post-industrial, our intellectuals are poststructuralist and now our musicians have even carved out a little niche called post-rock. Post-rock attempts to conflate everything that has preceded it under the premise that all music (and some other stuff besides) is interdependent and one genre is as good as another, so why not start out by playing some ska, throw in a few jazz-inspired chord changes, dive into some heavy metal riffs and then close with an ironic homage to ’80s New Wave, all while tossing aside any regard for musical convention, such as 4/4 time signatures and the industry standard three-minute running time. The less familiar it is, the better. And, like its “post” counterparts, post-rock can result in works of sheer genius at best, or at worst, a sprawling, incoherent mess.
Into this artistic melee, enter The Feud with their second album Language Is Technology. The first full-length, The Feud vs. Yr Universe, was by all accounts well received and raised not a few eyebrows outside of the quintet-plus-The Gooch’s native New York City, where they had already established themselves as favorites among the local scene. Of course, now you’re waiting for me to pronounce LIT a work of sheer genius or a sprawling incoherent mess… but we’ll attend to that in due time.
“N’finite Rug” kicks off the album with what could pass for a Guided By Voices song sans vocals, suddenly leaping into a convulsive, repetitive jam around the two-minute mark, then moving into what amounts to a soundtrack for a David Lynch film, culminating in an instrumental No Doubt B-side. As abruptly as moving from fifth gear into reverse, The Feud dives into the raucous, almost barbaric union of klezmer, punk and a hard rock version of a 1970s television cop drama theme song on “Tidy Sum (a Brilliant Idea for a),” the following track. Right up to “There Is No Sleep/Desized,” the psychedelic surf rock closer, the whole of LIT continues in this fashion. To borrow from an expression I used to hear about the weather in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley: if you don’t like a song by The Feud, wait thirty seconds for it to change. Though I do feel sorry for the first-time listener who pops in his brand new copy of LIT and spends the next 48 minutes waiting for the vocals.
To be quite honest, I can envision Language Is Technology in a host of different CD collections except my own. I have little doubt that The Feud’s style stems from a great deal of talent and humor, and that scads of people will warm to the qualities I’ve just mentioned; but I find myself in the small minority that remains unmoved by the music. This furious, schizophrenic exercise in genre-hopping, time-bending jam sessions proves that, more than language is technology, music is in fact several forms of language, and The Feud is undeniably polyglot. Maybe my personal lack of enthusiasm means that I’m not working from the right piece of the post-rock Rosetta Stone.
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