Trenchmouth is a hardcore quartet from Chicago whose rigmaroles are infeted with
heavy-metal solos and elements of ska, funk, reggae, even jazz.
Vocalist Damon Locks and guitarist Chris DeZutter are superbly coupled,
the former a terrifying preacher and the latter a creative volcano, but
the whole owes a lot to the ingenious foundations provided by the
rhythm section (Wayne Montana on bass and Fred Armisen on drums).
The band conquered the crowds with its epic shows but
the more complex EP Kick Your Mind And Make It Move (Dead Bird, 1991)
revealed their true mission. Center Of The Universe and
Making Money For Freak Machines are more than mere punk-rock fits,
they bite with style and grace.
Fugazi (for the unrelenting energy),
Bad Brains (for the reggae overtones),
Saccharine Trust and
Universal Congress (for the jazz
touches) are the natural precursors, and possibly even
Black Flag (heavy metal blasts) and
Minutemen (spastic meter shifts).
The band was groundbreaking to say the least.
Construction Of New Action (Skene, 1991) boasts Ultraman and
Friction, but fails to fully capitalize on the EP's intuitions.
A jazzy Bear In Mind is the boldest track here.
The philosophical and visionary journey of
Inside The Future (Skene, 1993)
ups the ante, but only the dub instrumental Now I Have Tasted Life
delivers the goods that the ambitious concept promises.
The tone is generally more sinister and cryptic
(Hit Men Will Suffocate The City).
The first two albums were combined on
Volumes Amplifiers Equalizers (Runt, 1995).
Trenchmouth virtually invented "sci-fi core" with
Vs The Light of The Sun (Skene, 1994).
It is really Locks' personal show.
Here Come The Automata,
How I Became Invincible,
The Effects Of Radiation and
Doing The Flammability are chapters of a convoluted saga that
relies on bombast and neurosis (and more funk than ever).
A Man Without Lungs is a delightful excursion into dub.
The dub and jazz elements of Trenchmouth's music bring them closer to
math-rock and post-rock on
The Broadcasting System (Skene, 1996).
Songs like Contrast Beneath The Surface and Interference
boast odd arrangements, tempos and dynamics.
In High Contrast is probably the piece that best summarizes the
slower, softer sound of the album
As the band split, Damon Locks metamorphed into DJ Black Nuclear Power
and teamed with studio wizard Casey Rice (who, as Designer, had released a
few singles of drum'n'bass like 1996's Vandal,
Arashi and Gebarck Star)
to record the EP Super ESP (Hefty, 1998), an electronic project that
delves into modern dance music and, of course, dub
(Born With ESP, City Counsel).
bassist Wayne Montana and vocalist Damon Locks enlisted drummer Dan Fliegel and started a new band, the Eternals, that debuted with the single
Chapter and Verse (Thrill Jockey, 1999) and the
EP Where Will We Live Now? (Thrill Jockey, 1999), chock full of
dub, jazz and funk.
They were rehearsals for
the album The Eternals (De Soto, 2000),
produced by John McEntire and Casey Rice.
A stronger emphasis on keyboards,
an intellectual post-rock stance, a stubbornly mid-tempo dub beat
and a complex, dissonant, warbled jungle of sound effects redefine acid jazz
and trip-hop in tracks like Billions of People,
Stirring Up Weather and the
instrumental Forever People.
The funkier Phase 3, Eternally Yours and
The Eternals 2000 are almost anthemic.
On the lighter side, the Eternals can shore up cocktail jazz as they do in
The soundscape gives Locks plenty of chances to show off his vocal skills,
all the way to the
almost mystical rapture of the closing ballad,
The End and the Beginning.
The Eternals' music was much more sophisticated and ambitious on
the mini-album Black Museum (Aesthetics, 2002),
with Tortoise's John Herndon on drums, a collection of lengthy
disjointed suites of hip-hop, dub and electronica.
The Eternals' EP Out of Proportion (Antifaz, 2003) blended
reggae, funk and post-rock in a less subtle manner.
The Eternals' full-length Rawar Style (Aesthetics, 2004) is perhaps
too anarchic for its own sake, but its convoluted funk-punk jams, halfway
between Material and the
rank among the most visionary moments of post-post-rock.
The intellectual, brainy hyper-fusion of
Heavy International (Aesthetics, 2007), deconstructing and reconstructing
funk, dub, jazz and techno is the post-rock equivalent of what the
Talking Heads did to the new wave in the
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