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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

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 []

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