This is the second album by The Bastards Of Fate. Hailing from Roanoke, Virginia, they were one of the last bands Marty Thau got behind before his untimely death recently. It is also a rare chance for me to review from both vinyl and digital: this luxury allows me to hear the album in more than one environment and yes the vinyl does sound better coming out of two speakers rather than the digital coming out of five.
Side one opens with Winter Of Our Discontent; a slow building monster of a tune with everything from train noises to mobile phone ring tones along with all sorts of other disturbing and jarring noises as it explodes and he tells us “He Found her in a magazine.” It also prepares us for just how mad this album can get.
Go No Further is the album’s most obvious single and a tune I’ve had stuck in my head for most of the last two weeks. It’s devoid of the vocals but damn, the tune is lodged in my head and it sounds like a cross between the High Llamas and Daniel Johnston with extra weirdness as Doug Cheatwood asks why all the bad stuff happens to him. It also demonstrates how, among all the weirdness this album has in abundance, that there are some very cool pop songs lurking underneath.
Chromosome I ups the odd phone bleeps and cheap casiotones with all sorts of other noises around a brilliant pop song with odd time signatures. It has fairly straight vocals acting as an anchor for the madness of the chant of “Someone’s in my head, all the phones are dead” that could have been lifted from several horror films.
One True Love is a slow, doomy song initially until its odd digital noises explode and the almost churchy vocals come in over what sound like old school computer game noises. It’s compelling if you’ve fallen in love with a stalker and all that’s missing is a computer-generated voice going “Bonus!” Instead, the vocals build around the story of his one true love surrounded by the carefully sculpted cacophony.
Identity Theft sounds more like an aural assault on the senses. It’s simply nuts with all these odd bits thrown together and vocals that could have been nicked off of The The of all people – well, if they’d gone Glitchcore bonkers and brilliant at the same time.
Side two opens with a Dear Prudence goes casiotone rip off, only they get away with the Beatles rip by burying it and using it as a subterranean motif after the opening and then speeding things up to make it less obvious before whacking in weird phone and keyboard noises. Oh, and is that a harp towards the end?
Ultimate Death opens with the flies buzzing over the corpse as distorted guitars battle with the odd out-there keyboards and drums that sound like they were stolen at taser point from a school marching band. All sorts of other elements colour the story and you wonder was he strangled with the sitar strings in this ultimate death? Well you’ll need to listen a few times to figure it out.
Credit has some glitchy keyboard madness as the singer pleads for more credit and the drummer beats the retreat and a real sweet song develops. This is a very cool song, almost a saccharine pop tune being weirded into life or into another life. It almost feels like the messy denouement of a strange film.
Co-Pilot is like a hymn with Casiotone organ and zither: a sort of modern Atheist gospel tune that breaks into some Doors on Ketamine madness. In the middle, there’s a totally nuts part as they throw the kitchen sink at our ears. The song eventually dissolves in a wall of noise which opens album closer Optometrist: another weirdly compelling song with blasts of all sorts of noise and some interesting guitar sounds and odd twanging sounds competing with the drums and keyboards insanity.
One of the most out there bonkers and tunefully mad records you’re likely to hear, then.