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Lee Miller - The Futility of Language

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Artist: Lee Miller

Album: The Futility of Language

Label: Musically Incorrect

Review date: Jul. 12, 2005

The Futility of Language lurches to life with a guitar riff half Deep Purple, half Black Sabbath. It never wavers, but nonetheless gets overwhelmed by a howl of feral feedback, while fuzzy bass and fist-pumping drums turn the crawl toward oblivion into a forced death march. Comprised of Alger Hiss frontman (and Dusted contributor) Jordan Mamone and two ex-Circle members, guitarist Jyrki Laiho and drummer Janne Peltomäki, Lee Miller looks the power trio, but plays the mad scientist. They dissect the bodies of rock, metal and noise, and reassemble them as a lumbering, terrorizing Frankenstein.

Mamone and Laiho's two-guitar Cerebus obliterates Mamone’s anguished vocals, turning them into sub-lingual rants. But buried in the eye of the storm are still shards of songs. They crop up unexpectedly, like the end of “Votive” or the last two minutes of the eight-minute “Tarn.” Such surprises elevate The Futility of Language from the cacophony of other noise albums.

Mamone’s connection to Finland dates to a teenage obsession with Finnish hardcore and noise rock, like Laija Äijälä’s Terveet Kädet and the early 7”s from Circle. At times, with its overcharged dual guitar attack and unswerving beats, the album sounds like it fit nicely next to the likes of Worms, Brussel Kaupallinen and Can Can Heads on the mid-’90s Bad Vugum compilations,

Circle is also collected on those discs, and Mamone's writing style reflects their sleek, stripped down structures. Nearly three minutes into "Two Black Eyes,” after a stretch of monomaniacal rock-crusher bass, a single key change infuses the piece with a new tension. The same effects appear on nearly every track. It's a style that minimizes structure and maximizes impulsive interplay within the group, a dynamic that makes the subtlest change seem gargantuan.

Two factors – the production of Aki Peltonen and the drumming of Janne Peltomäki – catalyze the ferocious guitar work and the slight dynamic changes. Peltonen has recorded most of the Circle and Ektroverde records, and his mixes, while favoring the clarity and balance associated with jazz recordings, retain a metallic edge. This means the trio’s interaction, like the dissonant guitar chatter of "Tarn” or the overdubbed plangent strums of a mandolin on "Missing Spleen,” come to the fore.

Peltomäki, with his surgical snare strikes and hi-hat, gives pieces like “Votive” a dramatic thrust. Laiho and Mamone’s guitar shrapnel, left alone, could have become sonic bludgeons. But combined with Peltonen's pristine production, there’s no mistaking the menace inherent in these stone-cold grooves.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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