Strange Attractors
Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock, Experimental, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Math Rock

Album Review

The versatile quartet's first release found its own voice already firmly established -- almost totally out of sync with prevailing trends in 1992, now Ecim seems prophetic in its embrace of styles and influences that would come to much greater prominence throughout the decade. The obvious Krautrock fetish alone -- clear from the first few seconds of the album thanks to the motorik drive of "Death Kit Train," as fine a Can/Neu! tribute as any ever recorded -- found the band inadvertently on the cutting edge in later years. Similarly styled numbers crop up throughout, generally tending more toward Can's dark experiments and jams. Unlike many bands that never moved beyond tribute, however, Cul de Sac do not limit themselves to one particular approach, but rather embrace a wide range of possibilities. The choice of cover songs is telling -- while "Song to the Siren" acknowledged both Tim Buckley's striking original and This Mortal Coil's later, evocative version, arguably more impressive was a take on future collaborator John Fahey's "The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California." It's a full-band version, Glenn Jones' playing to the fore but the rest of the band able to add a gentle rock swing and, two minutes in, sudden bursts of white noise. Certainly Jones' abilities on guitar elsewhere show a clear debt to Fahey's genre-busting work, and titles like "Stranger at Coney Island" and "The Moon Scolds the Morning Star" have a certain hint of Fahey as well. Again, though, it's not just that, but a collage of styles, including soft chimes, musical saw, chopped-up vocals from a Nico recitation, and sounds from the Contraption, Jones' other instrument besides guitar. Dredd Foole's guest vocals don't sound too out of place in the end -- his work on the Buckley cover is just right, though certainly his wordless opening yells on "Homunculus" make for an attention-getter. [The 2006 edition includes three bonus tracks.]
Ned Raggett, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Death Kit Train
  2. The Moon Scolds the Morning Star
  3. Stranger at Coney Island
  4. Homunculus
  5. The Portland Cement Factory at Monolith, California
  6. Nico's Dream
  7. The Invisible Worm
  8. Song to the Siren
  9. Electar
  10. Lauren's Blues
  11. Cul de Sade [*]
  12. The Bee Who Would Not Work [*]
  13. Negligee [*]