Received Transgressed & Transmitted
Ever since musical pioneers like Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa gave the rock community permission to be as weird as they wanted to be, countless bands have tried to follow in their wake. Received Transgressed & Transmitted, the latest album by British group The Nectarine No. 9, fights like hell to equal the bizarre innovation of Beefheart and Zappa, and, to the band's credit, they almost get it right.
Musically the album is all over the place, careening from electronica to reggae to rock, and the songs are held together by a crackling synthetic energy. The opening track, "Pong Fat," is a thumping electronic assault, while the last, "Lazy Crystal," lilts the album away through more gentle synthetic breezes and looped vocals.
In the midst of all the variety, the group's influences are pretty obvious, ranging from the moody electronica of Autechre to the jaunty rock of The Clash. At every turn, The Nectarine tries to cram in every sound possible and buries the lyrics under heavy layers of samples and synthesizers. The band is obviously not interested in making the music comfortable -- rather, the listener is kept at arm's length, feeling disjointed but still involved.
The effort itself is admirable. The Nectarine is striving for a sort of controlled chaos, a maelstrom of sound that begs for repeated listens and interpretations. But the goal turns into a double-edged sword -- while the music itself is intriguing, the band's attempt to be sonic iconoclasts feels too self-conscious, and the end result is a bit disappointing.