Thursday, August 12, 2010

Behold... The Arctopus - Nano Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning

The duality of both man and his music

I'm going to quote my hero, videogame reviewer Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, and say "I don't believe that a complex opinion can be adequately expressed numerically". Nano Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning is one a whacked ass little EP that exemplifies this quote to the fullest extent. I really wish I could just leave the score box blank and ramble on about all of the conflicting qualities of awe and irritation. I wish I could leave a nifty ENTER YOUR OWN SCORE HERE! function and watch the madness unfold. I wish lots of things, and like most wishes, they don't come true. So I'm left with a feeling of confusion and insecurity with any score I attach to this piece. I somewhat high rating feels unjustified and I feel like I'm giving credit purely for technicalities as opposed to songwriting and simple things like making your music listenable to more than ten people. A somewhat low score feels unjustified and I feel like I'm not giving enough credit to their skill and creativity, despite the other shortcomings. And a score of 50 right in the middle feels like a cop out as a critic.

New York's three most fucked up young men decide to start a band. One of the most pressing questions that would confront a new band would be what kind of music would they play. They apparently couldn't decide what they liked more... metal, progressive rock, mathcore, jazz, or ambient. In the end, they apparently just said "fuck it" and threw any random quality of any random style of music into a bag and picked out pieces with reckless abandon. Every section is done extremely well, but BtA seems to have forgotten the simple fact that they are not Mitch Hedberg. They simply lack the charm and wit necessary to string hundreds of completely unrelated pieces in a way that is entertaining and wholly enjoyable. The insanely technical and dissonant Dillinger Escape Plan styled sections of chaos take up the majority of the record, with the rest being occupied by a slew of random progressive rock and chilled jazzy stuff. I can understand completely when people throw out comments like "I cannot fathom somebody enjoying random noise", but at the same time I can understand people praising them for throwing convention out the window and doing something as artistically bizarre as they have done.

Let me reiterate something I'm sure I've mentioned before, SikTh is one of my favorite bands. Their brand of super tech mathcore mixed in with some of the more bizarre vocals in music (which I have lovingly dubbed "roostercore") and their unnerving sense for melody beneath chaos earns them a special place in my heart and raise them up so that they become the band by which I judge all similar bands. I don't care if Dillinger Escape Plan was first or better, they will forever be compared to SikTh in my eyes. And as such, Behold... the Arctopus will inevitably be shadowed by the Watford born psychotics. The difference between the two bands mainly boils down to BtA's relentlessness and unabashed dissonance. Where SikTh sits down and churns out haunting melodies over the chaos or produces beautiful piano tracks to break up the madness, BtA rarely lets up. There are sections like the intro to Estrogen/Pathogen Exchange Program and the middle break of Sensory Amusia that are obviously slow jazzy parts, but the difference remains that the uncomfortable feeling of the album never goes away, even on those parts.

And that's the thing, this EP gives a feeling of discomfort. It's almost as if the band is purposely trying to irritate the listener. The entire thing just... confuses me. I don't know whether to abhor or cherish this. For every reason I can come up with to claim this as masterful, I can find another reason to shit upon it. For every cool part like the section about a minute and a half into You Will Be Reincarnated as an Imperial Attack Spaceturtle (I guess I should mention I have the 9 track reissuing), there is the totally incoherent mess that is the three minute mark of Sensory Amusia. For every interesting and creative run, there is a frustrating segment nearly immediately after. These guys don't know the meaning of restraint. Perfection is not constant a barrage of night-and-day musical acrobatics. Perfection is not jagged dissonance, nor is it blasting incoherence. Perfection is an entirely subjective concept, and not even I know for sure the qualities and ingredients that make up this mythical perfection, but I sure as hell know what it isn't made of, and Nano Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning is chock full of imperfection.

RATING - 50%

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