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Orangutang creates a diverse sound in Acid Blues

Dead Sailor Acid Blues


Imago Records.

By Brian Hoffman

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, in a land not so very far away, there played a band by the name of Orangutang. They played, and through the haze of the smoke and the goggles of beer, the people watched and judged them worthy of praise. The land of the Rathskeller rejoiced.

Orangutang's latest production, Dead Sailor Acid Blues, deserves every bit of that praise. Diverse and original without becoming overly eclectic, the sound of Dead Sailor Acid Blues runs the gamut from the exceedingly heavy all the way to lighter, more intricately-textured weavings of guitar and vocals. The sound of these four guys can loosely be described as a mix between Rush's vocals, Stone Temple Pilot's rhythm guitar work, and Voivod's metal sounding edge to their work.

Orangutang keeps things interesting by mixing in some great guitar and other effects work on a lot of their tracks, especially during the song intros . For example, "Slahday & Camus," which lasts only 39 seconds and consists entirely of samples and effects-work, proclaims at its end, "Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen," and jumps immediately into the second track, "Bigger Chunk." "Bigger Chunk" combines especially Rush-like vocals and a sound vaguely reminiscent of Jane's Addiction productions, with some innovative guitar work to form a truly excellent track. "Pontchartrain," the second shortest song on the disc, conjures up images of a multicolored ball of play dough in its swirling construction: It's an instrumental mix of reversed sound bites, screams that could have come from a roller-coaster, and a few high notes on guitar repeated throughout.

Whether slow and brooding, harsh and heavy, or light and intricate, Orangutang has literally wrung out their emotions and poured them into their music. By way of an intensity example, "The Day Before I Died" compelled me to leap from my seat while writing this article and jump around my room during some great heavy rhythm work about two minutes into the track.

"Sweet Lemon Maureen" juxtaposes amazingly personal lyrics - "Bathing in the light of a radiant splendor / Like a clear crystal sky in a Cuban December / She's been burning bright, I am a frozen ember / Holding on to the letter that I know I'll never send her / Sweet lemon Maureen / I'm still right here where you left me" - with guitar work that could have easily have come from Helmet. It brings the writer's feelings of loss and isolation to the forefront, leaving the listener breathless by the end of the track.

Another track that could have easily have come from Helmet, "Daddy Raw," a dark sounding tune with some lyrics that makes one wonder exactly what they're thinking about, stands apart from the other tracks on the disc in that it doesn't really fit with the images evoked by the other tunes: definitely not the pick of the bunch.

An equally intense emotional outpouring comes forth during "They All Write Her Songs," and "Sea of Glass," with surprisingly melodic vocals. "They All Write Her Songs" augments the vocals with a more upbeat tempo and some interesting guitar effects at the intro, whereas "Sea of Glass" makes use of a slower guitar that sounds like it's getting passed through a flanger or something similar at points. Both constructions come out beautifully.

Light, slightly distorted guitar and high soothing vocals combine on "Shiny Like Gold" to produce a soft and melodic construction that comes across as being sung by someone mired in deep depression, being lifted back into the world of the living by the sound of the music.

"Lucky Jad" sounds a lot like something from Weezer's latest disc, with its clear vocals and light guitar intro before crashing home with some heavier rhythm guitar that continues for the rest of the track. "Lucky Jad" augments the rhythm guitar at points with some interesting guitar effects and an impressive solo. "Lucky Jad" works well, with an excellent sounding chorus: "The telephone is ringing / I know it's never for me."

As one major highlight on the album, "Surf Continental" kicks. This guitar laden production sparkles with its industrial derived construction - it gets rated right along side of "The Day Before I Died" in terms of sheer intensity and ability to get inside the listener and evoke feeling. "Surf Epilogue" blends right in to the end of "Surf Continental" and provides an ethereal, wide open sound to the end of the song.

The song "A.M." provides a fitting end to the album, with acoustic sounding guitar and some truly evocative lyrics like, "In the a.m. I will be there when the light pours out of the fishes' mouth / When the door slams and the diamond drops into the spoon and rolls around."

In the end, Orangutang succeeds well on nearly all the tracks of Dead Sailor Acid Blues, showing some amazing depth in their abilities as musicians and composers. Out of a possible 10, reserved for a sound which evokes such desire as to cause one to rush out and buy the compact disc immediately, Dead Sailor Acid Blues rates a 9.