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Guitar Noodling And Much Much More

Sort Of Quartet
Victim A La Mode
(Crippled Dick Hot Wax!)

Before I got this release, I found that it was pretty damn hard to find any information about the group out on the internet. Once I found out what label (one known for its eclectic releases) they were on, though, it became a little easier. In case you're wondering, the name of the band actually fits them fairly aptly. While the sleeve only lists four musicians (plus one bonus guest) as having played, there are definitely more than 4 instruments being played on most of the songs, and sometimes a great deal more. In terms of sound, I'd have to put them somewhere between an experimental blues band and a completely spazzed-out surf-rock group like The Reverand Horton Heat. I know that sounds like an odd combination, but their (mostly) instrumental album really does sort of run a fine line between experimental blues jam and surf rock. Only when it gets bogged down with completely annoying lyrics (towards the last third of the release) do things get a bit bogged down.

The disc starts out with the three-minute scorcher "Bush Wacked." The song doesn't follow any particular structure at all and slides through who knows how many different riffs and sounds in it's short lifespan. It's fun and off-the-cuff, even if several of the riffs sound mightly familiar (yet you can't quite put your finger on it). The second track "7 Degrees Of Bacon" follows nearly the same structure in that there really isn't one. After starting off with a slower build of guitars, the track busts loose with more sizzling guitars and and almost sounds like a super hopped-up jack-knifed country sound before chilling out again and barrelling into a conclusion. The group adds a bit of a mariachi sound in "Lotus Wald" and goes completely crazy again on "Wild About Animals."

As mentioned above, though, things start to go a bit awry on about track number 9. While I'm all for switching up a sound once in awhile, the more experimental track of "Fantastic Oaf" just doesn't work very well. For the next three tracks, the group takes off on even more tangents, including growled vocals and a faux metal-sounding number that derails the album even more. Eventually, they shake off the slump and rip back into things with the lurching, tempo shuffling "So Called Sickness." The album closes out with a fun, one-minute number followed by a strange polka-rock "Blank As A Fart." It's about as funny as the character of Fat Bastard in Austin Powers 2 (which is approximately 15 seconds). After that, you're just wishing that the group would end things with a nice guitar rocker, but alas, the album is over with.

Overall, there are some great instrumental guitar-jamming tracks on the album, but things are just too darn haphazard sounding to enjoy fully. I found myself listening to the entire thing a couple times, then marking which songs I liked (which ended up to be just over half) and programming those into the player, never to hear the other ones again. They definitely have more interesting arrangements than any other typical surf-rock band I've heard, but the tracks on which they try to do too much of a different thing fall way short of the other material.

Rating: 5.5