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5uu's - Hunger's Teeth CD (album) cover





4.12 | 85 ratings

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4 stars This band was originally formed in the mid-1980s by one Dave Kerman, a drummer/composer who is well known in RIO circles. 5uu's are an American answer to the European Rock-In-Opposition movement of the late 1970s. Apparently the band name came from some graffiti by some street gang in Los Angeles. While inspired by RIO, there is also a strong Zappa influence as well. Kerman wrote most of the music on this album, which appears to have a horse theme throughout. This is the bands third album, with an 8 year gap since the last album. Before this album members of 5uu's joined members of Motor Totemist Guild to form the group U-Totem.

The band here is basically a three-piece with others guesting on the album (such as Thinking Plague vocalist Suzanne Lewis and electronic experimenter Thomas Dimuzio). But it is new member Bob Drake, a founding member of Thinking Plague, that turns Hunger's Teeth into something else. He did a lot of engineering work before joining 5uu's and his input is essential to the way the album sounds. Did I mention he sometimes sings like Jon Anderson and sometimes plays bass (a Rickenbacker) like Chris Squire? Yes...he does. This album almost sounds like Yes from an alternate universe where up is down, black is white and sex prevents pregnancy. A great album for a avant-prog newbie to start with in this sub-genre.

The music here sounds big for just a trio (Sanjay Kumar being the third member), but I have seen YouTube clips from this era where the live renditions of these songs don't sound very different to the studio versions. The opener and standout track is "Well...Not Chickensh*t" which is accessible yet complex as hell. The lyrics focus on employer's apathy towards their employees. Love the bass tone after 2 minutes, very aggressive sounding. Later it gets more phased sounding followed by a great atonal guitar solo. This track is full of great melodies on a variety of instruments. The violin in particular sounds great here. "Roan" is short but sweet. The galloping horses and the horn-like sounds on synth and violin at the beginning sound majestic. Features a great melodic guitar solo. This track is so perfect it doesn't need to be any longer.

"Mangate" features only Thomas Dimuzio who you hear throughout the album. This is an electronic/tape manipulated piece. Although he is the only performer here, it sounds like a woman's voice from some contemporary pop/R&B song is being manipulated. Banjo and altered vocals open "Geronimo." Basically the music rarely stays in one place. Repeated notes on keyboard brings the music into more chamber rock territory. The banjo part comes back but now played on harpsichord(?) backed by some truly spacey synth sounds. "Glue" has an avant-boogie-rock feel with some really weird sounding manipulated keyboard sounds.

"Opportunity Bangs" is the most Yes sounding song on here but its still very avant-rock oriented. Even features a Wakeman-style organ solo(!). This track changes quite a bit, going through different parts. Features a great minimalistic and atonal guitar solo. "The Shears" is an a cappella barber shop quartet ditty. Some sound effects in the background. This reminds me of the "King Crimson Barber Shop" track recorded during the sessions for Crimson's Three Of A Perfect Pair album. "Truth, Justice, And The American Way" starts out moody and cinematic sounding followed by very avant-garde piano playing.

Later on you hear a vaguely hip-hop style drumbeat go back and forth between the left and right channels as Drake does the vocals in an almost cheerleader chant sort of way. Drake engineered an Ice Cube album before recording this...maybe some influence rubbed off on Bob? "Equus" features Suzanne on lead vocals. Her words are in sync with a keyboard. After some avant-rock goes into a steady groove while some sounds are heard over top of it. The vocal part is reprised at the end. "Traveler Waits For No One" also features Suzanne on lead vocals. The music here at first is the most upbeat on the album; almost sounds like '70s Yes mixed with '80s New Wave.

Then it goes into some darker sounding, Zappa inspired avant-rock. Gets more intense and rockin' as it goes along. The track just sort of ends abruptly. This is one of the greatest prog albums from the 1990s that you are likely to ever hear. The music has a great balance between dissonance and melody. The sound and production (and playing) is nearly flawless. Recommended to the Yes fan who feels a little adventurous or any avant-prog fan not already familiar with this group. Great '90s prog. I can't quite give this 'masterpiece' status but I will give it a 4.5 rounded down to a very strong 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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