Monday 26 September 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Giraffe Tongue Orchestra - "Broken Lines"

 By: Phil Weller

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 232/09/2016
Label: Party Smasher Inc ||
Cooking Vinyl

Giraffe Tongue Orchestra have forged a sound that is unlike any other and more than just the sum of all its parts.  “Broken Lines” is, in all, diverse and thrilling and one of the most unpredictable records you’ll hear all year.

“Broken Lines” CD//DD track listing:

1). Adapt Or Die
2). Crucifixion
3). No-One Is Innocent
4). Blood Moon
5). Fragments & Ashes
6). Back To The Light
7). All We Have Is Now
8). Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want
9). Thieves And Whores
10). Broken Lines

The Review:

It’s always a tricky task when musicians concerned in a new project are referred in the vein of that overused and god awful term ‘supergroup’ and each band member’s lineage fuels the preconceptions of starry eyed fans, for better or for worse. But with Giraffe Tongue Orchestra and many releases of this kind, it was only ever about good friends getting together and making music; making noise and having fun.

It just so happens that Ben Wienman has stated that he is “extremely proud” of an album “many thought would never happen,” with Mastodon’s Brent Hinds and fellow axesmith on the record echoing his sentiments. “I really hope,” he adds “[that] everyone who gives it a listen might find something in there they like,” and as a marker to go off, that is the one.

For, while there are the unique sounds of each member’s mother acts tinting the colours of this record, they also paint their canvas with new inventions, flavours and ideas that have sparked throughout this collaboration.

It is a record perhaps most poignant for Alice In Chains vocalist William DuVall who, despite fronting two superb records with the ‘grunge rock’ icons, still represents, for some, a band that died with Layne Staley back in 2002. Here he unleashes a performance marked with soul and fire, oozing gorgeous, often haunting and often uplifting vocal melodies characterised by his shadowy falsetto. He is filling no man’s shoes here and, alongside a glittering cast, he forges an identity of his own. It proves to the cynics what a talent he is. From the malicious spit of opener “Adapt Or Die” to the LSD funk of “Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want” his voices adaptability is astonishing. As far as singular performances go, he is more surprising than a gloryhole in a posh restaurant yet, unlike such a thing, he never sounds out of place and proves himself something of a chameleon front man. To go into detail about each and every nuance would take an age, and while DuVall may have a point to prove, for the rest of the band this is an environment in which they spread their creative wings away from the definitions and identities of their main projects. As such, this is a record which never corners itself in terms of genres and styles and such freeing expressionism helps ignite the record.

“Adapt or Die” andNo-One Is Innocent” represent the band’s more vigorous, aggressive side, packed as they are with battering thrash riffs and drum performances, courtesy of The Mars Volta sticksman Thomas Pridgen, that sound like the rumbling of greased up V8 engine.
“Back To The Light” which features guest vocals from Juliette Lewis and who it previously seemed would front the entire project – inherits some of the Dillinger sound with its jolting and angular riffage. Effects-swathed Mars Volta guitar acrobatics decorate the verse before a cannoning space battle of a chorus takes hold; one vastly expansive and detailed. “All We Have Is Now” meanwhile sees the band sounding softer, slower and creepier with something resembling a plagued ballad.

“Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want” bounces off an upbeat jazz chord progression, but as it does so in peaks and troughs, in fake climaxes and weird, discordant stabs, leaving you feeling that there is something more sinister afoot. Its chorus, after more tension strains you in its bass dominant pre-chorus, sounds like Red Hot Chilli Peppers on a bad acid trip; a fucked up but ultimately addictive boogie. From there the darkness grows overhead, things go overcast, the lava lamp morphing of colours and shapes darkened by brooding atmospherics, with DuVall and Hinds’ vocals, as so often they do across the record, weaving in and out of one another at the top of the mix. Yet for all unusual quirks at play here, they help concoct something unique here. Giraffe Tongue Orchestra have forged a sound that is unlike any other and more than just the sum of all its parts.

“Broken Lines” is, in all, diverse and thrilling and one of the most unpredictable records you’ll hear all year.

“Broken Lines” is available here

Band info: facebook