Review Summary: Like having a pebble in your shoe. But with breakdowns. And Spongebob.
Ever since its breakthrough in September 2014, xSPONGECOREx (also known within certain circles as SpongeXXX, (presumably by extension) Spongeporn, (almost certainly by extension of the former) Sponge***, and (possibly as a further extension) ***ing Bull***) has generated a level of interest from the online community that seems to have transcended the parameters of typical irony-slathered fusion projects.
Now, some might say that by virtue of the fact that the project is still running on all four cylinders and releasing EPs of an uncompromised style of music and seeming to demand the same attribution of abject hilarity from its inevitably wheezing audience. Others might say that it was never a joke to start with and that now that the initial comic thrill has worn off, listeners would be wise to appreciate xSPONGECOREx as a daring fusion of two deplorably trite, immature art forms – children’s cartoons and metalcore – that was clearly conceived in order to challenge their sensibilities and perceptions. Whatever.
This leaves me, as a reviewer, in something of a crossroads, not necessarily of the established two-diverging-road variety, but possibly of non-binary implications. What I mean is, what the hell is there to say about this that hasn’t already been established or isn’t extraordinarily evident to the ears of anyone who has consigned more than half a minute of their life to aurally masticating this. The premise of neocultural materialist theory holds that the purpose of the observer – that being myself, as the reviewer - is deconstruction, given that sexuality is distinct from truth. However, even this fundamental truth of informative analysis is insufficient to convince me to delve deeper into this unholy mess of (most likely) misplaced artistic intent.
Perhaps the best way to treat xSPONGECOREx at this stage in their career is to consider them in the context of other ironic projects. I am a man of many words most days, but my patience is wearing thin with this review, so it’s hard to be verbose. Therefore:
Example #1: Fantastimo
Fantastimo were among the most unpretentious of all parody projects for the primary reason that it was simply beyond hope to find anything vaguely redeemable in their music. Their genius was obviously and accessibly confined to their stylisation and presentation; the label ‘avant-garde’, album titles that did away with all lexical categories outside of nouns, self-branding as the purveyors of “Led Zeppelin V” (LOL) and a cute anti-ballad called “Pee”. Pretty hard to misunderstand, pretty funny for a short time, disappeared at the opportune moment (within a month of formation). Well played and fondly remembered, Fantastimo get a solid 7/10 as a joke project.
Example #2: Ornstein’s Puppy
Starting life as a sarcastic 8-bit tribute to Periphery and moving through everything from lounge jazz to near-black metal to synth pop (often within the same songs), these kids combined everything in ways that should never have ever been considered, made it sound hip and sustained a career of almost two years. They are epitomised by their nine minute semieponymous epic Puppy
and any of their (many) songs that change radically every ten seconds or so. The secret to Ornstein’s artistic success? They never repeated themselves and left past projects behind in the haze of their increasingly warped vision. Even when they eventually decided to get real and make some genre-bending tunes that could actually be taken seriously, they did so by starting a new project and making it very clear that Ornstein’s Puppy was not a milestone or an established style, but rather some refreshing novelty that thrived on diversity. 9/10.
Example #3: Tarantino’s Vibrator
Possibly the most akin to xSPONGEXCOREx of these examples, this project shot onto to the ironic music circuit with its brilliant debut Waves of Vibe
. 23 minutes of an alarmingly successful mix of jazz piano, a disgustingly distorted rhythm section, no percussion and orgasm samples galore, plus completely left-of-field samples that failed to connect with the album on a narrative level but boosted its quirkiness through the roof. Entertaining and dangerously close to genuinely arousing is mild way to put it. Anyway, the point here is that they had a strong debut that was made up of a one-dimensional and highly idiosyncratic fusion that made a splash in the right places, after which they went splits. Instead of offering multiple EPs’ worth of the same fusion. Because that would not have been funny. Or even entertaining. Just flogging a dead horse. 10/10.
If it hasn’t already become apparent, xSPONGEXCOREx generated a decent buzz and then killed it with future attempts to replicate it. Just really quite tedious. 3/10.