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The Flying Luttenbachers - The Void

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Artist: The Flying Luttenbachers

Album: The Void

Label: Troubleman Unlimited

Review date: Nov. 22, 2004

What comes after the end of everything?

In the liner notes to last year's Systems Emerge from Complete Disorder, Flying Luttenbachers founder Weasel Walter explicitly laid out the bizarre cosmology that has been unfolding on Luttenbachers release since 1996's Revenge. That this story is the destruction of all life on Earth, and what comes after, may speak to a robust strain of misanthropy in Walter's worldview, but it also serves as a metaphor for the Luttenbachers themselves. This is, after all, a band that has fallen apart and been put back together several times in its history, with Walter being the only constant member. The first Luttenbachers studio release is entitled Constructive Destruction, a concept Walter clearly believes in; he's lived it, several times over.

Systems’ final track, “The Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth,” was a ridiculously complex 20-minute representation of the final stages in the genesis of said Behemoth, a mammoth, planetoidal super-predator that Walter describes as “the omni-assassin,” preparing for its journey into the void. The track is the climax of not only the album but, arguably, Walter’s self-described aesthetic of “brutal prog,” a term that has since been used in reference to fellow travelers like Lightning Bolt, Orthrelm, and Hella. Rather than try and beat himself at his own game, Walter has opted to emphasize the brutality and dial down the prog on The Void, returning to the more visceral and primitive sound that characterized the “Satanic power trio” Luttenbachers line-up responsible for Revenge and its follow-up, Gods of Chaos.

Far from being a mere regression or cop-out, the move actually makes thematic sense for an album about a huge, sentient mass of metal and debris careening through a vast nothingness in search of more matter to break down and recycle. It helps that Walter is joined on this album by bassist Mike Green of Burmese and guitarist Ed Rodriguez, formerly of Collossamite and currently of The Gorge Trio. Together, the three musicians have committed to tape a concentrated blast of pure nihilism that is as succinct as Systems was sprawling.

Compositionally, this means that the music has gotten significantly simpler, which may not please those who enjoyed the frantic overdubs and touches of Xenakis on Systems, but will be balm to those who are in the mood for full on neo-No Wave aggression. Rodriguez recalls former Luttenbachers guitarist Chuck Falzone on “The Void part four,” a straightforward hardcore stomp that sees him mainly playing repetitive figures, albeit with an intensity that frankly makes much of Falzone’s work sound relatively mannered and anemic. The guitarist gets ample opportunities to show off his noisy virtuosity on tracks like “The Void part five,” the overstressed metal being rent asunder by the relentless march of the Behemoth (represented by Green’s plodding, doom metalesque bass and Walter’s trademark blast beat percussion).

Rodriguez’ playing on this album is tailor-made to Walter’s sensibilities, coming off as a cross between the metal and his bandleader’s obsession with NYC No Wave. Green’s presence is not as clearly felt, mainly because his role in the band is more textural than rhythmic; with Walter providing the songs’ foundations via his frenetic drumming, Green’s task is often to simply maintain an ominous rumbling, playing the same note over and over again. While this is an integral part of the record’s sound, it’s also easy to overlook Green’s contributions until a track like the album-closing “Sword of Atheism,” where the bassist comes to the fore with a churning riff that is positively evil.

Appropriately enough for an album called The Void, the final sound on “Sword of Atheism” is the sound of nothing, a burst of feedback from Rodriguez’ tortured instrument. The preceding 30 minutes easily rank among not only the top “aggressive” records of the year, but among the best records of the year, period. This is harrowing stuff, to be sure, but it’s also intelligently put together and impeccably played, and that alone sets them apart from the vast majority of their peers. That this band will undoubtedly fall apart, through either accident or design, sometime in the near future, is both tragic and necessary, as every Luttenbachers’ triumph is built from the bones of the previous one. The end is near, and it’s a monster.

By Hector Montes Jr.

Other Reviews of The Flying Luttenbachers

Systems Emerge from Complete Disorder

Infection and Decline

Read More

View all articles by Hector Montes Jr.

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