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Superluminal Pachyderm - Lexicographic Lint CD (album) cover

LEXICOGRAPHIC LINT

Superluminal Pachyderm

 

Eclectic Prog

3.00 | 1 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

progaeopteryx
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Does anyone remember mp3.com? Not the current one, but the one that existed in the late 1990s up to 2003 that would allow anyone to sign up and load their musical creations onto the Internet? I spent many hours combing that site looking for prog rock and of course the unusual. Often there were many bar bands that stayed bar bands simply because they couldn't cut it with their original stuff. Then there were the amateurs making electronica and ambient new age stuff, and even some people making music in their home with keyboards, pots and pans, and even one artist I recall that used cardboard boxes as drums!

But if you took the time, that old mp3.com had some real gems on it, including some really unusual artists. One of them I discovered was called Superluminal Pachyderm, a one-man project that composed progressive rock music on the computer using samples, a keyboard, a guitar, and music sequencing and editing software. That description in itself was enough to catch my attention. When I first heard the few mp3s that were available, I knew there was something really different about this one. It reeked of the weird and strange.

The sole driving force behind the Superluminal Pachyderm is one Ken Robinson, who apparently does this in his spare time. He released Superluminal Pachyderm's first album, Lexicographic Lint, in March 2000 on mp3.com. I have no idea what lexicographic lint is. There doesn't seem to be any theme having to do with dictionaries, or lexicographers, or lint for that matter. My guess is, and you can sort of pick up on it when you analyze the lyrics, that juxtaposition of unusual words together is one of the driving forces behind the lyrics. Or, the guy is out of his mind. Take your pick.

Prologue starts off the album with a gentle repeating synthesizer line and leads into an endless series of noises and people talking, layered about on the left and right sides of my headphones. The voices make little sense at all giving a prelude of what's to come. I hear ramblings about toilets, toilet paper, waking up between mattresses, and other assorted weirdness. This leads into a spoken poem with highly distorted vocals sounding much like a robot. More voices from the beginning return. Again, this seems to go nowhere. After this, a drum machine kicks in continuing the same theme with the repeating keyboard line. During this stage of the song the second verse of spoken poetry continues. The song segues into an instrumental section. The drums are mixed too high and it kind of ruins the whole song as the keyboard work seems rather interesting in this part, including some effective use of Moog samples. A strange, somewhat interesting, though flawed beginning.

The title track is next. This is a little more interesting, blending pop rock and neo prog, yet not sounding like anything I've ever heard before. It kind of sounds like Thomas Dolby meets early 1980s Saga, but with lyrics that make no sense at all. It's as if Robinson were pulling words out of the air. The programmed drums might be a bit of a distraction during drum rolls, but otherwise blends in with military precision throughout the song.

Can't Get Nothing kicks in with a rather disjointed melody that leads into what I can best describe as dance music. There are endless amounts of highly distorted voices and backmasking throughout the song. The weird vocals significantly distract the listener from the simple, yet effective, dance-style rhythm of this song. Apparently, the whole meaning of this song was an inability to get anything at a store. Simple, silly, a bit fun, but hardly intellectually engaging. Prog meets pop dance, if you can imagine it.

Next comes the song that lifts this album from the doldrums, Trail to Grytvikken, an 18+ minute long adventure into the depths of insanity. It starts off with some deep bass sounds, weird voices, and then kicks into a simple repeating piano/keyboard melody in the neo prog vein. This leads into a ghostly keyboard line with waves crashing, radio noises, and other unidentified sounds. The third section of this song is an amalgam of progressive pop styles, but the strangeness of the vocals makes it feel like something completely different. I sense some 1980s Genesis in some of this, but it's just a hint. The beginning section of the song returns during the fourth section. This song actually effectively repeats themes in a nice way. More weird lyrics, more repeating themes, then the ending section is an instrumental that incorporates all of the preceding musical themes together for a long three-minute fade out. Considering the technique Robinson uses to construct these songs, I'm kind of amazed at this one.

Turn Another Page is another piece that I'm having a hard time labeling. Nonsense layered over a neo prog/pop prog foundation, but that description hardly does it justice. The piano plays a big part of the overall sound of this piece. The chorus sections make the song seem like it dropped off a cliff into silliness, with overtones of amateurism. Still, even so, there is something appealing to me here.

This Is Nonsense is sort of like an electro-pop number with laughing, woo-woos (like Curly Howard, seriiously!), and idiotic, nonsensical lyrics. The nice background soundscape is it's only connection to prog in any possible way. The singing is pretty bland and sounds like someone getting up in the morning. This is definitely nonsense, but not the good kind.

All the Cream Cheese in the World, although a pretty neat title, is actually a repeat of the second section of Trail to Grytvikken containing a ghostly, repeating keyboard line, crashing waves, distorted vocals, radio noises, and other unidentified sounds. I swear I hear an echoed, distorted flushing toilet somewhere in that mess. The song continues in this manner for sometime before programmed drums kick in. It's sort of like a reprisal of Trail to Grytvikken, but part of me thinks it is just filler for a project that has run out of ideas.

The final song of the album is Epilogue. This simply repeats the themes introduced in the album's Prologue, but in a more condensed form. It has more spoken poetry in a robotized voice and what sounds like various radio sound effects. It then builds up with a lot of laughing and lines from previous songs all mixed together. It ends with the word "stop" being repeated over and over and a popping sound.

The later versions of this album, including the one currently available include a bonus track called Clothespin Bag. This was apparently an instrumental section that was to be a part of Trail to Grytvikken. This is probably the most progressive song on the album. Funny how some of the best songs some artists make turn out to be bonus tracks. For programmed drums, it almost sounds like a real drummer is in this, as it is rather complex. Again, I can't think of anyone I could compare this with, but the keyboard work, underlaid with piano, is quite eerie sounding. A lost gem that fortunately found its way into reality as a bonus track.

As one might suspect with completely computer-generated music, it is precise, almost machine-like. This is particularly noticeable on the drums. This is kind of similar to Magellan's first two albums that featured programmed drums, but these don't sound as corny. However, they could use a little work. The vocals are often echoed and tend to be dissonant. Still, they seem to fit this music nicely. Robinson generates a lot of strange sounds and there is a sort of eerieness to the whole thing. Like I said before, the lyrics are nonsense. They might make an interesting subject of a literary thesis someday, but for most of you, it might be a bit difficult to get through. There is also a sense of amateurism throughout the album, as the production could use a little work. But that kind of expectation from someone who does this as a hobby might be unfair, but is worth bringing out.

The best way I can describe this is to imagine yourself sitting in a comfortable chair with your mouth hanging open for an entire hour. At least that's the effect I think Robinson was aiming for. If so, he succeeded. This is not for everyone. Those of you interested in weird stuff might want to consider this album, otherwise I would start with Superluminal Pachyderm's Sea of Peas album first, which is just as weird, but better musically and production-wise. I like this enough to give it three stars (probably 2.75 would be more appropriate). Partly good, partly flawed, definitely weird.

progaeopteryx | 3/5 |

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