Backnee Horn "III" (Self-released, 2012)
Holy shit, Batman, what the hell is this? Two hours of brain-rattling hypnosis spread across three slabs of vinyl, all the way from Israel. Not particularly known for a vibrant psych scene (if you exclude the inexplicably popular Goa trance movement which seems to go on forever, Israeli psychedelia seems to have begun and ended nearly 50 years ago with The Churchills), Backnee Horn fall closer to the communal insanity of Amon Düül, Pärson Sound/International Harvester, and even The Mothers. Musical accompaniment almost sounds like an afterthought to these spaced cadets, as many of the extremely long tracks (half are over 13 minutes, with several approaching 20) pair percussive effects and gurgling electronics with crazed howling and chanting that suggests an hallucinogenic overload from too many, er, trips to the spiked Kool Aid! The band describe their sound as “crazy extreme avant garde gibberish.” On that, I cannot improve!
Alex Furman’s synths, samples, effects, and noises are at the heart of the embryonic journey to inner space that is ‘G or Go’, featuring Rudi J. on vocals, harmonica and drums – a feat that gives new meaning to the term ambidextrous. If you’ve ever seen Fantastic Voyage, you have an idea what it’s like to journey through the bloodstream – now you know what it sounds like, although 20 minutes of this is an endurance test even the most patient listener may have trouble conquering!
The trio’s arsenal of sound effects, muffled (and backward) voices, tape loops, and other paraphernalia is used to full effect on ‘Jaw Chic’, another exercise in improvised mayhem that might give Faust and Einstürzende Neubauten fans a hard on, but others should approach cautiously. ‘Votive’ sounds like it would sit nicely on one of John Carpenter’s Halloween soundtracks – it’s spooky as hell and best not appreciated alone in the dark, while ‘Fix Doodle’ is an exercise in controlled patience, taking almost four minutes to erupt from a nearly silent beginning to a stalking, hulking monstrous explosion – sort of like floating in a sensory deprivation tank or in the middle of the universe before blasting into hyperdrive in a burst of Tangerine Dreamish electronics. On the other end of the musical spectrum, ‘Lit Bone’ is a relaxing respite that floats along with a sense of suspended animation that suggests maybe the guys took the title a little too seriously and decided to light up a few bones to steady their nerves for the rest of the trip!
Rest assured, you will not hear another release like this in a long time (and it’s already two years old and has been superseded by their latest, a split LP with German krautrockers Das Raumpiloten). It will definitely take some adjustment of your linear notion of music, but can reward the more adventurous listener eager to experience music, the likes of which they’ve rarely heard before. And in this world of cookie cutter pop bands and retro-everything, that’s saying something indeed!
Review made by Jeff Penczak/2014
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