When I have conversations about drum and bass music, I don't want to talk about mollied up ravers in a cosmic sound land in some city stadium or Midwest field, I want to talk about two guys making Back From The Grave-style rock with a drum and bass. UK-based Black Plastic is Ben Le Marchant on bass and Josh Shrives on drums. Allegedly recorded for the price of a cheese sandwich and a can of Red Stripe (Jamaican-style lager and I bet half of you just added that to your list of impress-buys). After glancing at their Facebook, Luke Tomkins is included on guitar duties, and all three members share vocal responsibilities. They didn't tell us this, way punk.
TAPEJARA! (a Tupi word meaning "old being,” which is used to identify a winged dinosaur with a wicked crest on its head, obviously the precursor to the mohawk) kicks of with "Thirteen Planets.” The track is filled with crunchy bass, appropriate amounts of howling and swooning fuzz. Control and release, control and release - the track goes from rocking to rolling and back again in just under three minutes. It's a fantastic introduction to an album that makes no apologies for its scuzzy production, nor the erratic way it plays with the listener's feelings.
Black Plastic can get poppy, like in the Halloween-inspired "Needles,” which is great for people unfamiliar with the genre. Other tracks like "Burnin'" and "Turnaway" provide the appropriate amount of sewage vocals and grungy sentiments for potential converts, while remaining at slower tempos than the other songs. But Black Plastic's main thing is abrasive, sometimes outright dangerous, trashadelica. The rough bastard blues of "Slide (inSide)", the violent psych aggression of "Replace Me,” TAPEJARA is not a safe listen by any stretch of the imagination. Hell, even the weak tracks are discomforting. "Freude (Interlude)" uses backwards recordings that's cool for one minute but drags on for another four, and the closer "Make Me (Deaf, Dumb and) Blind)" is dominated by piano (which is a terrible choice of instrument for this sort of music) for the first five or so minutes before devolving into a noisily experimental coda.
Most garage bands these days are content to recycle old formulas. It's a genre that elevates the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" to Olympian heights, but every now and then it's refreshing to see a group of lads attempt to disrupt the genre. Black Plastic doesn't always succeed, but by Roky Erickson do they rock trying and their successes are right up there with today's torchbearers.
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