Review by Gary Cordwell
Release date : 12 February 2016
Flummox: To bewilder, perplex, confound, obfuscate. Indeed! This, then, is Flummoxs’ second album and is, in their words, darker and…ahem, “more mature” than their debut album, 2015’s ‘Plummoxygen’.
‘Selcouth’, the lead and title track, impresses. It’s seriously doomy and sludgy. The opening riff (apologies, but there will be an overuse of the word ‘riff’ in this review), when it emerges from the feedback, is brilliant, while the rest of the riffs that follow the extended mid-song noodle are all equally impressive. Each one is doomier and chuggier than the last until they are finally (12 minutes later) bludgeoned into a pulp – it’s a veritable riff-fest!
The level of musicianship contained within these grooves (or bytes or data or whatever it is if you’re listening to it digitally) is frankly astonishing. Every riff is a blinder. The solo’s are equally stunning – ranging from loooong psychedelic retro blues rock to mind-boggling technical paradiddles to a brief classical acoustic interlude.
The range of musical styles too, is breathtaking. From Doom to sludge, heads down metal to NWOBHM to funk, with everything in between – prog, thrash, grunge, punk, heavy psychedelia and avant doom flute jazz! Oh yes, it’s all here! And all of it convincing and seemingly effortless. Take ‘Pan’s Daughter’ for example – city levelling riffage hammered out with devastating efficiency before we spin into sandblasting thrash, eye wateringly complex technical prog-outs and the aforementioned Ron Burgundy stylee jazz flute. If they stuck to any one of these genres they’d be great but they can (and will) do it all.
But…this is Flummox and flummox is what they do. There will be quirkiness. A case in point being ‘Tongue-Saw’ – a blistering, atonal, 2 minute diversion of Death, noise and screaming. Taking in growling, roaring, jazz fusion bass, cod reggae, cowbell, drunken Tom Waits yowling, snatches of ‘Amazing Grace’ and more Death metal. It’s mercifully brief.
And there’s humour…”Zappa-esque” humour. So, to quote the great man himself, “does humour belong in music?”. Discuss. There are ‘comedy’ voices, lyrics about hummingbirds being ground up and smoked. And then there’s the final track, ‘Bark, Paddle & Ball’ – a 9-minute serial killer/Grease mash-up. Doo Wop and Death metal combine. I can’t go into the lyrical content here – suffice to say it’s nasty. Misogynistic. Sexist. Purile, and simply unpleasant. It’s the bitter rant of a hormonal teenager who hasn’t been laid yet. Fingers crossed he finds someone who chills him out soon or he’s going to start torturing small animals. If ‘American Psycho’s’ Patrick Bateman was into Napalm Death rather than Huey Lewis And The News this would be what his mind sounded like. But Flummox will have an airtight defence – if you don’t like it then you just don’t get it, you’re not cool, not one of us. But trust me, you’ll only play it the once..if that.
Overall I enjoyed ‘Selcouth’. It sails close to the edge – like the best/worst of avant jazz, it’s perilously close to disappearing up it’s own arse. It’s the sound of a band playing for no-one but themselves. But hey, they’re young, hopefully they’ll get the self-indulgent cheap shock tactics out of their system now. They have the chops and the talent to become a great band but I think they’ll look back on some of this in time and cringe.
7 out of 10
- A National Selection
- The Ghost Of Ronnie Dio
- Hummingbird Anthem
- Nazgul Ashes
- Depression Heap
- Pan’s Daughter
- Flight Through The CosmosUnibirth
- Bark, Paddle & Ball