Strange Attractor - Blow Hole

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Myopicat Records
Catalog Number: SA9801
Format: CD
Total Time: 62:28:00

I'd like to start this review with a little story. Because I like to listen to music as I go to sleep, I've been putting five disks into the CD player. Putting my headphones on, I dive into the music.* Yes, I do fall asleep - no reflection on the music of course as it is 2 or 3 a.m. after all, and this gig is my second job. Anyway, Strange Attractor's debut Blow Hole was slotted into the queue (though this wasn't my first listening to the album). I drifted up out of sleep to a woman's voice speaking eerily, like that woman at the end of the Haunted House ride at Disneyland. The voice was saying, "Who is awake and who is asleep/It is the midnight hour when witches meet..." It took me a few moments to figure out that I wasn't dreaming it, and that I, in fact, still had the headphones on. This was the intro to "Knights Of Templar" which closes the album. The intro is entitled "Awakening." Weird or what?

What's interesting is how often sleep crops up in the lyrics of Ludent Tremmel (guitars/vocals). The word "insomnia" appears in the first track, "Fear It," "sleep" and variations thereof are in "The Milkweed Song", "Waiting On The Montreal" and, of course, the above mentioned "Knights Of Templar." That, too, is a small play on words, me thinks, given the intro and the references to night. Of course, there's "Dream Of The Hollow" as well. Only the instrumentals make no mention of sleep - I mean their titles don't. And now don't go thinking that maybe it's because the music will send you to sleep, as that isn't the case either.

Anyway, to answer my own question of "Weird or what?" I have to say, well, yes, weird. At least this release. But weird in a good way, in a way that makes you say, "well that was certainly different, but ... well ... I like it." Ludent Tremmel is the focus here as he is the guitarist and vocalist, but that's not to dismiss the contributions of the rest of the band, as they are a very tight unit. Dean Sequin Bachmocker Sypher on fretless bass, Zippy Schmegryan on keys, and David Lambert round out the quartet.

Musically, they've been compared to King Crimson, something that is apparent in the instrumental "Retching For The Stars." No, that's not a typo. Zappa is another name mentioned. In fact, in the brief press notes, Tremmel is referred to as an "alien rock guitarist." Well, yes, I can see how that is apt. And Tremmel is quite the guitar player, as laid-back yet searing leads are featured throughout, most especially on "Till It Under." It's on the instrumental tracks where the contributions of the whole band are most clearly felt and heard - fans of Djam Karet will find much to like in these.

"RoHo" is a shuffling, easygoing tune, with a somewhat country music like feel, perhaps a bit bluegrass. Oh, I thought of Grant Lee Buffalo, as well. "Dream Of The Hollow" is a rolling tune, vaguely Celtic in rhythm..Vocally, Ludent Tremmel has a voice that is one part Jim Morrison, one part Frank Sinatra, and one part Michael Bean (The Call) - at least to these ears. In other words, Tremmel has a very deep, sonorous, and rich voice and a somewhat offbeat delivery. It was during "Everybody's Gotta Die," that I thought of Sinatra - it might be said that Tremmel was crooning. The music has more a jazzy, rhythm and blues flavour (and sometimes I thought more of Barry White than of Sinatra).

Back to "Knights of Templar." The singsong intro (about two and quarter minutes) gives way to churning guitar and bass, steady percussion, and occasional keyboard notes. The Knights Templar were crusaders, established in 1120 (the Second Crusade) seeking to reclaim the Holy Land, Jerusalem. While a religious order, they were ostensibly established to protect the oppressed. The track draws parallels between the present Religious Right and the Crusaders of the middle ages (roughly the 11th Century to the 13th Century). Of course, in that same period you had the Inquisition, and a rash of excommunications for heresy, all of which are also referenced in the lyrics.

It is the lyrics of the entire album which make this a very strong package, as Tremmel is asequally adept at communicating poetically as he is communicating through the music and his guitar.

* while initial impressions are formed in this state, I don't write the reviews based on it. Really.

Dist. by Cleefo

Fear It (6:05) / The Milkweed Song (4:36) / No Air (inst) (5:19) / Everybody's Gotta Die (4:19) / Till It Under (4:28) / Retching For The Stars (inst) (6:15) / Waiting On The Montreal (4:08) / RoHo (6:53) / Dream Of The Hollow (4:52) / Clamdip (inst) (4:38) / Ode Dumas (3:46) / Knights of Templar (7:09)

Zippy Schmegryan - keyboards
Ludent Tremmel -vocals and guitars
David Lambert - drums
Dean Sequin Bachmocker Sypher - fretless bass
Evelyn Segar Kaldis - spoken word intro (12)

Blow Hole (1998)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: August 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1315
Language: english


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