Review Summary: A misguided foray into the depths of over-experimentation.
Cody Bonnette is clearly a man of eclectic taste. Albums bearing Bonnette’s insignia range from metal-tinged post-hardcore to effects laden songs devoid of structure or purpose, with just about everything in between. When it was announced during Underoath’s farewell tour that Bonnette had teamed up with As Cities Burn’s guitarist Chris Lott to release an ep under the moniker of Walls of Ears, excitement grew for new material from these two longtime friends. Spread almost exclusively through word of mouth and social media, the eponymous demo ep saw these two friends go in a musical direction that would surprise even the most informed fan of the two; songs were grotesquely chopped up and rearranged, leading to an interesting, if somewhat confusing collection of songs. With their debut full length Perfect Organ Assembly
, there is more of the same, a fact that is not as comforting as it may seem, as these ten tracks drag on and on, relying on the same “cheap tricks” over and over again to create an album that will inevitably wear thin the patience of listeners.
Perfect Organ Assembly
greets listeners auspiciously enough with two of the best tracks on the entire record, “Heavy Hologram” and “Autosky”, the former being one of the more straightforward songs, and the latter receiving the honors of lead single. The two tracks, while entirely unlike anything Bonnette or Lott have put out, are fairly tame in the scope of the entire record. Sure, the two tracks are loosely structured and implement a bevy of different instrumentation (such as the singing saw, toy pianos and, vibraphone to name a few), but as far as experimental music is concerned, these two tracks are as urbane as they come. “Autosky” even boasts a rare vocal appearance from Cody Bonnette, an appearance that serves as a highlight of the entire record. Bonnette’s vocal contributions are few and far between, laying the brunt of the vocal responsibilities on Lott’s shoulders. While Lott is more than a capable vocalist, he grates away the patience of listeners track after track, until his inaudible reversed singing on “Ravage Holy Ohm” become almost too much to bear. After such a promising start, this momentum and flow of the record is immediately brought to a halt, as “Great Big Birth” consisting of 50 of the most tedious seconds on the record with random clanging and banging, providing nothing worth listening to.
As the record progresses, so does Wall of Ears decided penchant for recording tracks that are nearly unlistenable. While it is not a tactic that is often employed, recording the instrumentation and vocals and playing them backward can be a welcome reprieve from dull tracks. Wall of Ears apparently deemed this to be the crux of what “experimentation” is, as the tracks “Arms Heist” “Task You” and “Ravage Holy Ohm” are nearly entirely made up of this. The vocals are impossible to decipher, and the atmosphere that is attempted to be created is entirely lost upon listeners, as they will more than likely grow tired of this approach. Album closer “The Tale” is a song that serves, as one may guess, as an entirely spoken word tale, of two twins (Pool and Cesspool) torn apart at birth. With little backing music, and one of the most ridiculous attempts at a joke at the end of the track, “The Tale” serves as a perfect recapitulation of the record, leaving listeners to question why exactly they forced themselves to see this record through to its end.
While there are many aspects that do work well on Wall of Ears’ debut release, such as the haunting melodies in “Miss Earth” and “Mind Of Moss” or the eerie atmosphere achieved during the first course of the record, the negatives ultimately overshadow the positives. Every track hints at some sort of promise, only to be blotched out by tired and lazy gimmicks or uninspired sections. Perfect Organ Assembly
is a record that, in a somewhat novel approach, was written and recorded simultaneously, but that is not an excuse for the overwhelming feeling of sloppiness
on nearly every track.