Maximum Indifference The Transmutations of Supposed Angels: or Beings that were once Girls (2000, Botched) Maximum Indifference, an instrumental trio from the San Francisco area, released their second CD The Transmutations of Supposed Angels: or Beings that were once Girls in 2000 on their own label, Botched. Maximum Indifference blends a rock trio format with layers of guitars, synth noises, samples, and spoken word to create instrumental rock that vacillates between stomping and pseudo-artsy. The main sound of Transmutations pounds with slick, heavy guitars and particularly a grinding bass guitar tone perched high in the mix. The bass leads much of the riffing in a rolling bounce that makes even the more angular riffs groove with a head bob. The riffs themselves are plain hard rock and metal fare with little syncopation or unusual metrics, like the stolid grind of "Bad Mind Does Does Not" or the pedal tone-accent note plod of "Apparatus," but the layering into deeply textured arrangements frames the riffs in a more interesting context. Guitar melodies develop over the repeated riffs, building them into coherent songs rather than just excessively repeated riffs. Varied textures, including shimmering clean guitar, twangy finger picked clean guitar, acoustic guitar, and ethereal synths assemble the layers. The CD opens with a few silly samples and then the bounding riff of "Beware the Glabyglop," which would rock just as well without the intro samples. The clean twang of "Jack Palance the Ninja" shows a slight Naked City prog twang feel, and that title perfectly describes the feel of this instrumental. "Sleep Hammer" grinds through a slow dirge after a plinking clean intro. Maximum Indifference excels at the stomping hard rock riffs, and they build them well into song foundations for layering and developing other parts. The rolling groove of Transmutations grinds to a halt at track 11, "Halation," a 10 minute long spoken word song. The pompously framed story is vapid and the writing is hackneyed and awkward: "Time itself was now, irrelevant." "Then as if on cue, something clicked - it all came back." The moody background music slowly builds in an effective soundtrack, but the spoken word drones on for over nine minutes, finally making a forced reference to the album title The Transmutations of Supposed Angels: or Beings that were once Girls. Knowing where it came from doesn't make the title any less vainly pseudo-artsy, or less excessively long. At the story culmination, key words are processed with an echo to make sure the listener knows they are important, dashing any subtlety in the narrative. The clear, grandfather-like timbre of the reading voice mixed above the music makes the blandness of the spoken word impossible to ignore. "Halation" drags the whole CD down - people buy CDs for the music, not to hear perfectly good musicians write sci-fi drivel people could read in a bad paperback novel. The following instrumental track "Apparatus," an instrumental sequel to the spoken word story, returns to the rolling Maximum Indifference groove. It gently builds for another 13 minutes before recapitulating the clean intro melody from early in the build of "Halation." The musical parts to this 23 minute opus shine, but they can't overcome the awful spoken word. Transmutations glistens with a professionally recorded sound of thick guitars, crisp drums, and that grinding bass that fits their style so well. The brittle hard rock rhythm guitar sound fits this thick layering and the grinding bass guitar well. The band recorded the CD themselves, and did a first-rate job. When Maximum Indifference rocks, they sound great, in a modern heavy style of accessible instrumental rock grooves with melodic guitar and synth textures, and an off kilter sense of humor that they can relate to the sound of their music, in things like the song title "Jack Palance the Ninja." However, when they overdose on the art rock trappings like the 10 minute spoken word and the ridiculously pseudo-artsy CD title, they pull attention away from their music. It's impossible to tell if they mean the pseudo-artsy frills as a joke, since they lay them on so deep, or if they really are serious. Either way, The Transmutations of Supposed Angels: or Beings that were once Girls would have been a stronger CD if they had ditched the spoken word track (and about half of that CD title). Reviewed by Scott Andrews [firstname.lastname@example.org] More Info:
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