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5uu's - Bel Marduk & Tiamat CD (album) cover




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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars This group was one of the weirdest around in the mid-80's and certainly rivalling with News From Babel or Skeleton Crew, relegating weirdoes like Debilme Menthols light years into accessible music realms. Indeed, Kerman's crew was certainly not looking for MTV exposure. The quintet (as the group's name would suggest) is a double guitar, but drummer Kerman's keyboards play an important role as well while Wilson's vocals will remind many of the early 80's new wave style of singing.

Right off the bat with the title track, you just hear that your mind will probably suffer musical torture and most likely will not come unscathed after been through intense listening sessions. Scale of Life presents some rather familiar sounds for those who like early- 80's electro-pop (via the era's sound, rest assured, not on the songwriting), often sounding like a much proggier Talking Heads without that very popish side. Other tracks like Ancient Internationalism actually sounds like Numan's Cars mixed with Byrne & Eno's Life In The Bush Of Ghost, with a bizarre cold twist. At other times, 5UU's sounds like a cross of Residents mixing it up with some Cardiacs and nesting it up in Henry Cow's pad. The instrumental Sporting, however, is a great excuse of searing guitar solo over some demented rhythms, while Dogma & Faith is maybe the band's better moment on this album.

With no tracks above the 4 minutes, this album is indeed stretching the generic definition of prog rock beyond the usual understanding of it, and the early 5UU's albums might receive a better description as avant-garde new wave. While not really up my alley, such an album is definitely worthy sticking an ear on it, but whether to acquire the album is another matter. Personally I'll pass on it.

Report this review (#151053)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars First album for the 5uu's entity that more of a band it's a title name for Dave Kerman, the well- known RIO drummer and composer, and his various works. The entire album, besides of its RIOistic 'quirkiness', is heavily rooted in the early 80's. The sound might unfortunately categorized by many of us, particular those who where not around in that decade as more or less matures, as 'creepy', 'cheesy' and all sort of non complement descriptions. The drums sounds mechanical, with some 80's drum machines here and there, and the synth are not far from that. But the songs are different, and got their own uniqueness and delight. The first seeds of DK creation are here. My fave here is 'Compromisation', with its lovely but quirky avant melody, and original lyrics from DK, accompanied by waaay too-loud, mechanical drums, and frequent use of loud cymbals crashes, In a flavor that I can't make a decision whether it belong to the early 80's tendencies, or to DK personal drumming style, which I find too loud and exaggerate from time to time.

Another track which is very amusing one, is 'Sporting', an instrumental piece with much more liveness and acoustic sound. But I suggest you do not make your sport with this track in the background, since you'll probably break your leg or something due to the odd time signatures, and the complex rhythms of this track.

Overall there are just 8 short songs here, about 20 minutes total. Since I listen to this album from the two-LPs-in-one-disk addition, I suspect that the original hard-to-find LP featured some more tracks, probably experimentals. (If someone knows something about the original LP, please let me know). My recommendation to this album goes for fans only, and those who are interested in 5uu's as well as the American RIO movement, from its very first days. The compilation also holds the excellent 'Elements' album, with the "Motor totemist guild", and another 4 fine tracks from the early days, and it's a real good compilation. The entire album is truly just for fans.

Report this review (#271236)
Posted Friday, March 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first 5uu's album - very interesting indeed. You can feel 80's New Wave here, old-school progressive rock, and a little of god-knows-what (perhaps Henry Cow?) -- it's all very colorful. You can tell that whoever made this was young, and it's all the better for it.

The introductory track is beyond cheesy. Some mystical cymbals, reverse-fed vocals intoning words from a bad fantasy novel -- lead to some wonderful demo-tape synths and drum machines playing additive rhythms in shifting time signature. I love it.

"The Scale of Life" lopes through time signature changes every bar - and it's hella catchy! Curt Wilson never sounded better. The drums are incredibly exuberant - as if young Dave Kerman couldn't help but beat the living crap out of everything nearby.

"Compromisation" is a little lame. The lyrics are about the Porcupine's Dilemma, a topic viewers of Neon Genesis Evangelion should be familiar with... but enough about my nerdy hobbies -- this track has some cool gooshy accordion sounds and a nifty 9/4 bass pedal groove, but that's about it.

"Loyalty to Creation" starts nowhere and goes nowhere, fast. Gotta love that enthusiasm though! This album RUNS on enthusiasm, something sorely missed on recent Kerman releases, which are horribly dead by comparison...

"Ancient Internationalism" keeps a constant 12/4 tom groove throughout, which gets real obnoxious real quick. Love those unison synths, though. Modern music needs more synths.

"The Fear of Life" returns to the shifting meters of the early tracks - a welcome return. The durations and pitches were determined via chance -- the vocals were improvised on the spot. And it sounds GREAT.

"Contemporary Global Friction" is a track that was sadly deleted from the final cut in the "Point of Views" compilation. It opens with sounds like a bowling alley in the background; soon, vocals produced by The Residents appear (literally - Kerman phoned them for help!) -- these give way to an excellent percussion workout in the vein of Stravinsky. The finale is utterly bizarre - slowed down drums and shouted phonemes.

"Sporting" brings us back to stadium-prog land -- theatrical guitars, 15/8-to-the-floor drums... but only two melodic ideas. Ugh.

"Magic, Dogma, & Faith" is wonderful; we see the demo theme from the introduction fully realized; it comes together quite nicely.

A great, energetic debut album with plenty of excited drums. Definitely recommended!

Report this review (#479001)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permalink

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