Skin Graft Records
Introducing Lemon is bookended by two (two!) twenty-minute plus mini-operas that apparently seek to sum up their whole canon of recorded music in single sprawling schizophrenic movements. Metal, jazz, film, country, choirboy shapes, good old fashioned dissonance and chamber music all rudely jockey for position, shouting over one another, throwing an elbow or two. Oddly, it’s more enjoyable an exercise than it has any right to be.
“Camp O’Physique” brings to mind some of the weirder moments of Ween and Zappa, but a little more…. kinda like Residents fronted by a Raymond Chandler protagonist: hardboiled, straightshootin’ narration about being assaulted by various hygiene products, as a one-note organ part drones on, and there’s some falsetto backing vocals and even a cool horn part at the end. “Zervas” begins with a simple Middle-Eastern sounding acoustic-guitar plucking pattern, building slowly, adding instruments, ominously and before you know it you’re smack in the middle of a leviathan heavy rock instrumental that’s worthy of Led Zeppelin at their Crowleyan best. The drums are huge….
Those same 60 foot tall drums kick off, and then innovatively form the backbone of the next number, “Song 29,” before it veers off wildly into gently-picked harmonics and other avenues, populated with distorted jazzy chops and meandering grooves — at the halfway point, what sounds like a drunken Guy Smiley takes over on lead vocals, backed by the world’s most spastic barbershop quartet, as everything falls to utter shambles. But fear not, razor-sharp guitar chords reappear, as if in ambush, slashing back and forth like redwood deforestation — careful as an assassin, but in the end sonic decay via waves of feeback sets in, white noise even as the drummer soldiers on. “The Day After I Never Met You” mines a vein of off-kilter yet still epic rock that’s been mostly untouched since Faith No More broke up; yeah, it surprised me too, but that’s abruptly cancelled out by a lengthy piano interlude, and that in turn is supplanted by a guitar fade coda a la Loop or some such.
“Smile” is totally awesome mid-’90s perfect jangle pop a la Blake Babies/Drop Nineteens/Gumball (and they play it straight the whole damn time for a band full of avowed smart-asses), only injecting little bits of noise and weirdness like a boxer picking his shots. It’s a hit, surely. “While” begins life as a postlude to “Smile,” holding it’s bridal train, as it were, with insinuating shudders of pianos and guitars that imply a glimmering finality. When the fade comes, only one piano is left, but it’s very quickly joined by what sounds like a small orchestra and what sounds like sampled material from an old radio broadcast. Weirdness, naturally.
Skin Graft Records: www.skingraftrecords.com