ZEBRAS / E=MC HAMMER: Parasitic Clones under the Strong Arm of the Robotic Machine: Split: LP

I imagine Zebras think they’re pretty cute. Reminds me quite a bit of spastic, synth-heavy bands of yore like Red Light Sting and Sick Lipstick and shit like that. They seem to be shooting for the sassy, teased-hair and white-belt audience—an audience that may or may not be still around. I mean, this would’ve been totally appropriate if it’d come out on Dim Mak or Sound Virus in, say, 2002, but culturally, I think this particular genre may have (thankfully) run its course. Unfortunately, they turned out to be head and shoulders above their vinyl partners—E=MC Hammer sounds like a bunch of people with spiritual hard-ons for Ruins and John Zorn and whatnot. As a result, they come across as pretentious as hell and trying way too hard to create something “cerebral” and “challenging”: the lyric sheet shows three songs with different names but the exact same lyrics (not that I was actually able to match up the vocalist’s yowls to any of the printed material), and there’s no real discernable moment where you can tell which “song” ends and the next begins. It pretty much comes across as some dipshit yelling and growling nonsense over some tape loops and guitars, drums and keyboards. It’s pretty sad when the best you’re hoping for out of a record is thirty seconds of musical cohesiveness. Possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of vinyl I’ve ever seen, so it’s a shame that the music itself falls so solidly between okay and shitty.

 –keith (Secret, myspace.com/secretrecords)