Monday 25 February 2013

Tomahawk - Oddfellows (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 28/1/2013
Label : Ipecac Recordings
Oddfellows, album tracklisting
1) Oddfellows 3:30
2) Stone Letter 2:52
3) I.O.U. 2:38
4) White Hats/Black Hats 3:22
5) A Thousand Eyes 2:41
6) Rise Up Dirty Waters 3:07
7) The Quiet Few 3:48
8) I can Almost See Them 2:42
9) South Paw 4:08
10) Choke Neck 3:58
11) Waratorium 3:34
12 Baby Let's Play__ 2:43
13) Typhoon 2:16
Tomahawk is an experimental alternative metal/alternative rock supergroup from the United States. They formed in 2000 when Fantômas, ex-Mr. Bungle and Faith No More singer/keyboardist Mike Patton and ex-The Jesus Lizard guitar player Duane Denison started swapping tapes with the intention of collaborating. Duane Denison then recruited ex-Helmet drummer John Stanier (currently playing with Battles), while Mike Patton brought Melvins/Cows bass player Kevin Rutmanis into the fold. Three phenomenal recordings came from this formation. Kevin left the band in 2007, taking his place is Trevor Dunn, ex-Mr. Bungle, Fantomas player. 
Mike Patton
Duane Denison
John Stanier
Trevor Dunn


Tomahawk's fourth album starts with the sound of a real drum kit being played by a real person; John Stainer, formerly of Helmet, to be precise. Mike Patton is also involved as are Jesus Lizard and Melvins members. Instead of focusing on the people involved, let's look at the music on offer here. The riffs start discordantly, the bass holding things down with the drums. Patton offers up a kind of spoken/whispered vocal as things quickly become uncategorisable.

Stone Letter sounds like Iggy Pop in one of his better recent outings or even Therapy? Towards the back stretch. IOU continues the eclectic nature of the record with piano, echoing drums and an almost Nick Cave-esque vocal from Patton. It is at this point that I thought, how much I was enjoying the record on first listen. Odd stuff for sure- but eminently enjoyable.

White Hats/Black Hats gives us a sort of noise rock/rock n roll workout while an infectious vocal is delivered. A Thousand Eyes has a sinister timbre to it from the off, but the vibe is as much mellow  as it is threatening. Jazz patterns usher in Rise Up Dirty Waters but the track is schizophrenic in style and delivery- totally unpredictable and of no genre in particular. I Can Almost See Them gives the listener another eclectic mix of styles all cloaked in darkness. It must be stressed here that the songs on offer are relatively short (2-4mins) and although genres may skip around even in the same song it all hangs together very well. It is a non-uniform unified approach with the vibe (if I can use such a  term...) being consistent throughout.

The Quiet Few uses an odd time signature (¾ alternating with 5/8?) that then gets blown away by a  four on the floor stomp. South Paw boasts a drum intro and appropriately mixed verse vocals (left and right speaker alternating). It breaks the four minute mark to good effect. Again, the track is schizophrenic in delivery and there are nice percussion overdubs to be heard amongst the layered guitars in the attentive production and mixing.

Choke Neck switches the pace again with lyrics about a thin neck and a divorce (?!) coupled quiet/loud dynamics. Waratorium provides a pun, a groove in odd time and some jazzy touches from the players. Baby Let's Play ____ is seemingly not a reference to the Elvis classic, but instead of rockabilly , giving the aural equivalent of listening to the Lynch series Twin Peaks done in an alternative metal/rock style. Typhoon closes this odd record in style with some pace and skanking rhythms mixed with eerie effects and a quirky vocal delivery.

Overall, the record is enjoyable, odd, genre defying and well worth your time. Ignore the big names involved- just listen and enjoy.
Words by: Richard Maw

Check the links for more info on the band below. Record is available to buy at all popular stockists and DD at the usual places.  You must own this record. It is an essential purchase.