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Sunburn EP

Dan Friel
Sunburn EP

Dan Friel is a member of the experimental rock band Parts & Labor and he is also most definitely some sort of mad scientist. On his first self-released effort, he has put together an album comprised from a bank of instruments that someone could probably string together for under 100 dollars. Daisy-chaining together toy keyboards, remote control car joysticks, walkie talkies, a guitar, and some pedals, he has created a lo-fi beast of an album that relies on distortion as much as it does melodies to grab your ear.

And actually, grabbing your ear might be a polite term for things, as most of the tracks on the Sunburn EP tend to wrangle your ear, wrestle it to the ground, then sizzle it with a white-hot branding iron. While his full-time band has been compared to Lightning Bolt, this solo work by Dan Friel is in a category of all it's own. I guess you could call it demented casio-noise pop, but it's a bastard-child of so many things that it becomes hard to pin down. The disc opens with "Dead Batteries" and as the title suggests, the track not only realizes a lo-fi keyboard melody run through loads of distortion and compression pedals, but the effect dying batteries has on its output. The result is a track with a fairly simply melody that bleeds at the edges from being pushed to the sonic limits while a repetitive rhythm (also hammered into the red) keeps things banging along.

From there out, the album continues the assault on the upper registers while still managing to keep things fairly mixed-up. "Death" is one of the most successful tracks on the release as it layers walls of distorted guitars with high-end squalling keyboard melodies that manage to take the track to a rather anthematic state while "7 Sisters" is probably the most song-like track on the disc, layering another thunderous layer of dirty guitars under crisp shards of keyboard buzz and a thumping beat. By the time the disc has reached the track of "B2bs," it's not even afraid to tackle twisted almost breakbeat drum programming and the whole thing sputters along with a demented squeal that sounds like Squarepusher if he dropped all low-end and found himself limited to thrift-store instrument castoffs. So it goes with Dan Friel. He makes seriously noisy pop music with instruments that most people would consider to be junk. He's the ultimate anti-gearhound, yet he sometimes coaxes glorious noises out of things. This is not for everyone, but if you're into pushing pre-defined limits on hardware, you'll find Friel to be your man.

Rating: 6.5