Brainiac
Bonsai Superstar


5.0
classic

Review

by Detective Ars USER (33 Reviews)
August 25th, 2016 | 89 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Noisy, carefree, creative, and unhinged - Bonsai Superstar.

I feel like this is one of those albums that I have been unwittingly searching for for years. Before I even knew who Brainiac were, I always imagined a silly noise rock album with choppy guitar, heavy feedback, and electronic bloops being an ideal concept. It would be the kind of album where you know that everyone involved is having lighthearted fun with little to no restraint on their ideas. It would be a powerful tour de force of variety in vocal styles and techniques and would take many risky, yet successful moves. However, it would also be catchy, animated and not too lengthy. It seemed like the kind of album that could only exist in theory, as if the album would have too much going on to comfortably fit into a short amount of time. At least it seemed that way until I heard Bonsai Superstar.

In just under 34 minutes, Bonsai Superstar, not only displays everything that is mentioned above, but far more. The album quietly sneaks in with a fairly tame bass line on “Hot Metal Doberman's,” but once the distorted vocals of the verses kick in, followed by an off-kilter chorus, the wild ride begins. There are a few mellow songs here and there, but more than half of them contain such heavy feedback that it keeps that album’s momentum up without having to resort to forcibly picking it up the pace. Also, the mellower songs are placed perfectly in between the more frantic ones, causing the constant change in pace to make the album seem even more hectic. John Schmersal’s guitar playing on nearly every track is conspicuously choppy, the electronic elements typically burst out of feedback, and Juan Monasterio’s bass lines are stark. The bass is so prominent that it even leads a couple of the songs such as “Flypaper.”

Speaking of “Flypaper,” it is easily one of the most unique songs on the album. It is like a caricature of an already silly Pixies song complete with Tim Taylor’s goofy high pitched mumbles. Throughout the album, Taylor shifts between shouting, screaming, whispering, and the aforementioned goofy high pitched mumbles -sometimes within the same song. A lot of the vocals on the album are slurred, and while this may seem like a flaw to some, it could be more positively seen as the vocals mimicking the feedback, which is oddly thrilling and creates a tone of extreme anxiety. The album transfers its high energy to the listener, so that it may be uncomfortable to sit still during it. In this way, Bonsai Superstar is a rather danceable album, if not at least a headbanger.

I feel like I am all over the place just talking about this album as if I have been granted temporary ADHD. Bonsai Superstar is so ridiculously fun and catchy that the listener should not even want to sit down while listening to it, but rather be on the go for its duration. Maybe it is annoying, maybe it is unsettling, maybe it is disorganized, but wow does it convey these elements in the most enjoyable way possible. It’s noise rock, right? Is it not noise rock’s goal to be an exciting mess? Even if it is not, this exciting mess surely proves itself to be worthy of many listens.

Album highlights: “Radio Apeshot”, “Flypaper”, “Sexual Frustration”, “You Wrecked My Hair”



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user ratings (82)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
ArsMoriendi
August 25th 2016


33913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album represents a lot of what I love about music.

Digging: Mudhoney - My Brother The Cow

wtferrothorn
August 25th 2016


5849 Comments


"fit into a short about of time"
*amount

"not only displays everything all that is mentioned above, but far more"
remove either everything or all, having both is kind of redundant

"but once the distorted vocals of the verses kick in followed by an off-kilter chorus the wild ride begins"
place a comma after chorus

"Sure there is a few mellow songs here and there"
*Sure, there are

"It could be more positively seen"
it should be lowercased

aside from these mistakes, good review. This seems like an album I'd dig, consider how much I love 'Surfer Rosa'.





ArsMoriendi
August 25th 2016


33913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I always miss the worst typos and notice the little ones haha, thanks for the edits

wtferrothorn
August 25th 2016


5849 Comments


I'm too fast for you boi

ArsMoriendi
August 25th 2016


33913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Damn that used to be "a lot" but then I changed it to "many" lol. Must have missed the "a."

50iL
August 25th 2016


5398 Comments


"I'm too fast for you boi"
Not as fast as my dad.










wtferrothorn
August 25th 2016


5849 Comments


Wait, what did you say? I couldn't hear you, you were still buffering.

ArsMoriendi
August 25th 2016


33913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You wish

50iL
August 25th 2016


5398 Comments


@ALA why should I?
Anyway, pos'd. Good review, short and sweet.

ArsMoriendi
August 25th 2016


33913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Shhh that was only my 2nd review ever (my first one I got deleted lol)

onionbubs
August 25th 2016


13086 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah if there was ever a definitive arscore album...this would be a contender

Digging: Volumes - Via

iloveyouall
August 25th 2016


6319 Comments


"once the distorted vocals of the verses kick in followed by an off-kilter chorus"
i feel like this reads a bit jarringly. maybe a comma after "in" or a slight rephrase...
"such heavy feedback, that"
pretty sure that comma don't need to be there
"I feel like I am all over the place just talking about this album as if I have been granted temporary ADHD."
ngl, that made me laugh xD
otherwise, solid review ars. makes me wanna make a noise rock lissssst tbh.
check the homopolice btw.

50iL
August 25th 2016


5398 Comments


@ALA I'm thankful for this opportunity. I won't disappoint you, master.

ArsMoriendi
August 25th 2016


33913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"check the homopolice btw."



They only have 7 songs? Hmm might check soon actually lol



I don't know why, but I feel like you'd 2 this Sach.

iloveyouall
August 25th 2016


6319 Comments


i've heard this, and it kinda suffers from it's lack of organisation imo. they try to tackle too many things at once a lot of the time, and as a result, it has the same kind of scatterbrained quality that dulls the music of so many others (see: mike patton, john zorn)...

so yeah, a 2 sounds about right.

iloveyouall
August 25th 2016


6319 Comments


whereas something like the homopolice kinda nails what i want from noise rock; tons of feedback, and that vaguest semblance of structure such that the feedback can head down whatever path it pleases, for there will always be that backbone holding everything together. focused, but unfocused if you will.

ArsMoriendi
August 25th 2016


33913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I like scatterbrained stuff personally haha

iloveyouall
August 25th 2016


6319 Comments


fair enuff

ArsMoriendi
August 25th 2016


33913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Gonna check that Homopolice EP right now



Hope I like it

iloveyouall
August 25th 2016


6319 Comments


if you like the stooges and feedback, you should love it tbh



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