(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

CD review - Red Mass, Red Mass (2009)

Anarchy as artistic technique. Red Mass is a pick up punk band out of Montreal consisting of whoever is in the mood to play with Roy Vucino (aka Choyce). The uncommitted lineup, the experimental tangents, and rapid mood swings are all part of the plan on this EP. The core aesthetic is a garage punk sound, with psycho undertones (as opposed to psychedelic ones).

Of course, because there are no real rules, the first couple of songs cover a Pere Ubu influenced experimental rock sound in contrast to the other 5 tracks. The first song, Saturn, combines a David Thomas style vocal and music that tightropes between Pere Ubu and Roky Erickson. It's quirky and retro. The frantic energy is great. The second track adds a Radio Birdman vibe to the mix. Overdriven bass and guitar set up a cathartic level of noise.

The remaining tracks start in garage punk, but then push the boundaries. There's plenty of thrash and choppy drive, invoking the MC5, the Damned, a host of classic punk bands. At the same time, Red Mass pulls in a lot of experimental elements, such as the static and noise layering in I'm On Fire or the drum machine under Success For Crime. Another element of the anarchy is the occasional use of funny sounding, affected vocals. Success For Crime is the strongest example, where the vocals make it more of an impression of punk.

Top tracks are the aforementioned Saturn and the simple, pound it out, West Coast punk of Party Till I Die. Some good old frat house suicide punch is a good accompaniment.

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