Trenchmouth


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Construction Of New Action , 6/10
Inside The Future , 6.5/10
Vs The Light of The Sun , 7/10
The Broadcasting System , 6/10
The Eternals , 6/10
Eternals: Black Museum (2002), 7/10 (EP)
Eternals: Rawar Style (2004), 6.5/10
Eternals: Heavy International (2007), 6.5/10
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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.

The full-length 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).

Trenchmouth's 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 Feverous Times. 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 Contortions, 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 late 1970s.

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