Let me throw out some band combinations: Bis & Trans Am. Robert Smith and The Happy Mondays. Grandaddy, Sonic Youth and the B-52's. Brilliance, mess and mud. But what IfIHadAHiFi sound most like is a louder, bitchier Clinic. They're not as good, and they're sloppier, but they muster the same excitement. "The All Tied Up," Ones and Zeroes' opening track, begins with a particulary Clinical feel, with its drumrolls and muted synthesizers, and a guitar that introduces a clanking funk.
But this band is both more conventional and more all-over-theplace. While Clinic gives the impression that anything can happen, IfIHadAHiFi's aesthetic announces that everything wil happen, all the time. Almost martial call-and-responce chants and whoops are buried under perpetually spinning synth squiggles, raucous guitars and rock/funk rhythms. The sound buzzes with layers, with layers sometimes losing out to the buzz as the recording process is overwhelmed.
"The All Tied Up" flows directly into "(This Is) The New Science," one of the cleanest tracks, and one that should be the model for what the band does henceforth. A synth whrils by like a fan flying off its axle, its blades made of singing swords. A succession of chants and the ubiquitous "woo-hoo's" build to the title refrain. Chaos slowly dominates as the band sings assertive ba-babba-labba's until a wash of noise overtakes them.
The third track is the first mistake. All the layers and chaos are pushed down under a kitschy cliché: an old announcer's voice describing rudimentary dance technique. It's an awful choice-- one that similarly mars "Tanguska-Electro," a tune about the great inventor Tesla's attempt to create a death ray. Singing about a death ray is sufficient; having some cornball announcer tell us what the song we can no longer hear is about is egregiously wrong. It's the kind of move that makes me less forgiving of the muddiness. (In the album credits, mixing is listed as by "consensus," either a bad technician with a bad showbiz name, or more likely, a horrible way to mix an album. "Make my part louder!")
"One Happy Pussycat" plays its vocals, if not everything else, at a slower speed, with not much else to balance the track. "I just want to love you, baby," the singer croaks. It sounds like the creepy voice at the end of The Virgin Suicides soundtrack getting delusions of Barry White, or like failing batteries on a walkman.
But for all its
mistakes, the whirling madness of most of these songs is undeniable.
This is the other IDM: Insane Dance Music. Instead of shaking it to
processed slices of digital glory, people should be staggering around
in confusion, their minds disabled by the very live sound this band
makes. Still, if the band could clean up their sound a little and avoid
the overdubbedannouncer guys, they could stand to be an important band.
Or at least a lot of fun.
"Ones & Zeroes"
One can learn a
lot about a band from its obsessions. IfIHadaHiFi, for example, is obsessed
with palindromes - from its own name, to the pseudonyms adopted by its
members (Noise Lesion, Dr. Awkward, Mr. Alarm, and Yale Delay), to song
titles ("Edison No Side"). Such geeky obsession with symmetry
and recursion might suggest a certain sort of bug-eyed mad scientist,
paranoically finding significance in the unlikeliest things (not that
we at MILK would know anything about that). Okay, that may be overdoing
it - but yes, IfIHadaHiFi plays like a bunch of mad scientists, all
clattering guitars, grunting bass, shouted, wild-eyed singing, and synths
deployed for their ability to make loud, obnoxious noises like the soundtrack
to a '50s scifi movie. The music is high-energy, well aware of the value
of loud noises played at high speed, and sometimes reminds me of Man
or Astroman? but without the surf obsession. Nicely, they also find
time to quiet things down slightly on "One Happy Pussycat"
- and make an intriguing soundscape whose queasy slide guitar and slowed-down
sampled dialogue sound almost like a lost track from Pere Ubu circa
Dub Housing. Play it loud and jump around the room.
: "Ones & Zeroes"
This is definately
an interesting cd, to say the least. Think Dismemberment Plan taken
over by computers. It is very rhythemic as far as drumming goes. Alot
of straight ghetto style drum beats w/ noisey guitars, wierd keyboard
noises, and alot of computer / high tech bleeps and blops.
"Ones & Zeroes"
What a fun CD! This
is some pretty wacky upbeat stuff thats a cross between noise
and danceable pop ness. Its sounds as if these folks would amazing
to see live. It reminds me a little of Huggybear oddly enough but with
more electro technology and none of the girl stuff. Its also heavy
bass oriented and then theres a lot of wacky synth noises and
guitar crunch. I would call this noisy sci-fi rock disco with a touch
of metal and electronic if I were to call it something. Cool samples
too! You get 11 songs on this and I swear the whole time youre
like "what the fuck?" and "holy shit this is awesome!"
IFIHADAHIFI : "Ones
Bringing their own
take on alternative noise-rock, IfIHadAHiFis latest effort, Ones
and Zeros, is a trip into the mind of Dr. Awkward, NoiseLesion, Yale
Delay, and Mr. Alarm.
IS) THE NEW SCIENCE