Review Summary: It’s not a good idea to try and solve a case of not having much to say musically by spitting out droves of records.
Once upon a time, you told somebody it sometimes takes a thousand notes to make one sound. I don’t remember the exact context off-hand, don’t scalp me… not that it is really relevant. What mattered is that where others would all sound exactly the same, your vigor and innovation was endless. They’d spurt notes, you’d make sounds. You jumped from style to style with ease, as soon as your previous approach started to fizz out. You put out more than your share of solo albums. But all of them were awesome in their own right. The music featured within was quality stuff; you’d never just drum up play time for the sake of having play time. Even the collection of petite snippets known as Funnel Weaver made sense when interpreted as a sketchbook of awesome, drop-tuned riffs, jotted down casually in a flash of inspiration… like a behind-the-stage glance at an album coming to be. Even though there never was an album to go along with it. Yet it made sense. Somehow. Of course, there were also undeniable masterpieces like Inbred Mountain, whose quality is undisputed and originality much heralded.
Stuff changed in 2007. For whatever reason, you decided to drop a 13-disc collection known as INSEARCHOFTHE, and the material contained within was patchy at best, with moments of awesome hidden in huge, tidal waves of pointless, meandering jams and “experimental” wankery of the lowest order. When you want to, you can make experimental music that casually grabs the listener by the throat and slams him against whatever surface you wish (think Cyborg Slunks and, to a lesser extent, Needle in a Slunk Stack). But… let’s face it, INSEARCHOFTHE was pretty tepid, but surprisingly enough the run of 1000 limited edition copies flew out of your magazine pretty quickly. That’s when you felt a sudden surge of power – you can release just about everything you can come up with, and your fan base will lap it up. Sure, a fraction of them may bitch and moan every now and then, but they’ll come back when you drop something new and snap it up from you. And, in your quest to dump as much output as possible, you ended up getting stuck in a rut, going through the motions like a robot time and time again.
Underground Chamber has thousands of notes, and not a single sound. This 30-minute mess is the definition of everything that’s wrong with so many of your recent albums… your riffage has degenerated into trite, boring patterns that do little to properly surprise the listener, or even leave some good old-fashioned content behind. Your soloing on here is abysmal – it’s like “Empty Space” the track diluted to fit the play time whilst keeping the content level the same. And it was already pitifully bland and samey when it was four minutes long. Sure, man, you can shred like a mofo, but your reliance on a few licks makes it all sound virtually the same – same old tap, same old n-tuplet scale running, you really should change up the note patterns. You’re very proficient technically, you could handle shaking it up a bit. The tune may appear as an impressive 30 minutes of pure, uncut music, but it’s essentially your good old soft-hard dynamic planted on newer, more experimental soil. Riff of varying degree of attempted ferocity, shred, “ambient” break with noises, guitar wailing, lazors, shred, rinse, repeat, and again, and again…
I fail to find anything at all that I enjoy on here. As mentioned, the riffs lack punch and substance, they all blend together into one collective blur. The “experimental” side has been beaten to death on previous releases, and hearing the same bloops and bleeps yet again, especially crammed repeatedly into the same 30-minute track space, is bound to get on the nerves of just about anybody who tries this out. Dude, is your heart still in the game on this disc? Or are you just putting it out so your loyal fan herd can go snap it up, complain or “best Bucket disc ever, for real this time!” fan-hype it to death, and wait for your next piece of work?
I know you’ve still got it. Captain Eo’s Voyage was pure gold, and most of your ’09 and ’10 solo albums had their moments. But every single one of the five Pikes series installments is fundamentally flawed one way or the other. This one just happens to be the most hopeless. Sure, it’s an interesting idea to put out music like a comic book (albeit less regularly, with releases dropping with random time intervals and quantities, not even sticking true to a single distribution medium), but further cranking up your already insane pacing is further tipping the (already rickety since your 2007 work ethic revolution) quantity vs. quality balance scale against fans enjoying the ride. It’s not a good idea to try and solve a case of not having much to say musically by spitting out droves of records. Maybe I’m misjudging you, maybe you’re not after revenue and just trying to make your fans happy by supplying as much output as possible… but, just to repeat – some of it hasn’t been cutting it for a while, and the quality level has dropped a lot recently. So maybe take some time off, slow things down and drop a bomb of an album when you’re ready?