Dusted Reviews

The Late BP Helium - Amok

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: The Late BP Helium

Album: Amok

Label: Orange Twin

Review date: May. 28, 2005

As the pages unfold, the motives behind the Elephant Six Collective's disassembly become more lucid. The operation had ballooned out of proportion leaving the founding figureheads with a waning sense of quality control and a growing uncertainty as to which groups actually constituted the creative kibbutz-by-way-of-Athens, GA. There was little doubt, however, as to whether Bryan Poole (our not-so-deceased, gaseous subject) was family. A longstanding member of Elf Power, he hung up his bass shortly before the Collective's 2002 dissolution to pursue a solo career. Amok, his debut album for Orange Twin, collects the blue-chips from a two year recording frenzy that began almost immediately after his departure, and the resulting works find Poole distilling the last decade or so of high production power -pop, using the most common and, thusly, safe elements therein as lynchpins for the disc's 11 tracks.

Skipping past the first song, which sounds embarrassingly close to an SNL intro, Amok treats us to its most exceptional moment. "Bluebeard", a downright pretty offering and the only track fruited of collaborative effort, is a succinct success that wouldn't seem at all out of place on A.C. Newman's Slow Wonder (it does bear mentioning that both gentlemen share a similar vocal range and delivery). Though the territory's been traversed by more mindful cartographers many times over, Poole seems more comfortable and unpretentious here than at any other point on album; performing with a natural confidence that seems curiously absent elsewhere. But that's not all that's wrong.

As is typical of Orange Twin releases, Amok enjoys a wonderful supporting cast of session players from the psych-label's stable. In that there is such a diverse pool of talent contributing, it might prove difficult for some artists to maintain the coherence and flow of a 45-minute album. And yet, Poole seems a bit too hesitant to expand his sonic palette beyond the patterned guitar, organ, bass and drums. To employ anything more exotic is to devote an entire solo or instrumental passage showcasing the Late B.P. Helium's ability to exercise coercively precise Marc Bolan-isms underneath a coercively precise inurement to major scales. While this almost always yields some technically impressive playing, it mutes Amok's guttural effectiveness.

With its demise, the Elephant Six Collective washed its hands of all future output that could potentially tarnish or disfigure its founding values. As a result, artists like the Late B.P. Helium have an increased artistic freedom. With no collective or publicist imposed maxims to subscribe to, they've the option to do virtually whatever they want. With Amok, Bryan Poole puts his abilities as a musician and composer on trial, but the by-product isn't going to shock anyone already familiar with the artist's work. I just wish it didn't have to be such a crucible for the listening public.

By Kevin Adickes

Read More

View all articles by Kevin Adickes

Find out more about Orange Twin

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.