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Saccharine Trust - We Became Snakes CD (album) cover


Saccharine Trust


Eclectic Prog

4.02 | 9 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Making both ends meet.

If you always wondered if eggplants, salmon and vanilla ice cream taste good together or do jazz, punk and prog rock goes together? and if anyone has ever gone that road? The answer is Yes. While I can name just a handful of bands that have tried this fusion of styles, Saccharine Trust would be the definitive act who clearly took both styles and made it one, and totally their own too, where music's most two contradicting genres try to coexist. Their story goes like this... the band was founded by Jack Brewer and Joe Baiza in 1980 in Los Angeles where they were part of the hardcore punk scene along with Minutemen, Black Flag and other SST groups. In 1984 the band has released their first full length album which already then showed how long they have come since their early punk days. 1986 saw the band releasing their second album while refining their act and going as far as no other punk band have ever dreamt of getting, mixing jazz and fusion elements while incorporating more instruments like saxophone, cornet, piano and more to their sound and style.

What's funny about this album is that you can attribute every member to a different genre. The vocals are punkish, guitars are progressive, bass is fusion and drums are sewing everything together, it might sound a little unrealistic but it actually works very well. Vocals by Brewer although are relatively restrained in comparison to early punk vocalists are still punkish in nature. He's not exactly singing of course, he's just reciting, shouting and throws a lot of energy, reminds me Henry Rollins a lot. Guitars by Joe Baiza are what's making them progressive and diverse, no power chords and no dirty loud guitars are to be found here. Instead Mr. Baiza is like strolling in the park and just plays whatever he comes up with, part of it is definitely improvised. He has a very Frippian kind of leads which suits the punk elements very well, on top of that he throws all kinds of weird jazzy chords, sometimes melodic but a lot of dissonant too. Although he always plays with distortion he switches from calm jazzy leads to furious solos. Bass by Bob Fitzer is so cool, he doesn't stick to one style of playing, he is clearly influenced by other jazz fusion bass players and it shows a lot ( Pastorius comes to mind here). There's a lot of saxophone here which give that final jazz/fusion vibe, very cool stuff going from easy caressing kind of leads to furious shrieking outbursts and everything that's in between.

There's a lot to enjoy in this album but not everything is in the same level. The first two tracks "We Became Snakes" and "Drugstore Logic" are awesome! I wish the whole thing would be like this, their cool blend of punk attitude and jazzy crimsonian sinister guitars are working perfectly. "Frankie On A Pony" is a long instrumental and it's jazz from head to toe, enjoyable yes but hardly an essential jazz piece. "The Need" is a short kind of jazzy ballad done with clean guitars, piano saxophone and vocals, good and overall contributes to the diversity of the album, but both I think is a little sabotaging in the album's good momentum. The next four tracks is a good return to form exploring their blend of extraordinary styles, I mean you just got to listen to this to believe. The album ends with an acoustic short piece which marks the very far end of the band's creative ideas, done with an accordion, acoustic guitars and harmonica. I don't think they ever dreamed when they first started out only six years before, that they would ever perform such a song, I mean that's enough to get them banned from performing in a punk concert for life.

This is Saccharine Trust best album and shortly after its release the band would break up due to difference of opinions about the band's direction, their fusion of styles I guess finally took its toll. I don't think this album/band would appeal to everyone of course but it's cool to check out how it all works eventually. 3.5 stars rounded up because of their originality, creativity and vision. So then I guess double egg, chips, beans and eggplants, salmon and vanilla ice cream will sort you out for the day....oh and a tea!

Sagichim | 4/5 |


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