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Geisha - Mondo Dell'Orrore

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Artist: Geisha

Album: Mondo Dell'Orrore

Label: Crucial Blast

Review date: Sep. 3, 2006

Geisha is another genre-bashing, amp-destroying band from the UK out to drown you in noise. Having released two EPs – The Pornography of Terror and Hymns for the Living Dead – the Bristol quartet delivers its first full-length. With vocals buried, Albini-style, deep in a mix of fuzzed-out heaviness, they sharpen coiled riffs with the single-mindedness of Jesus Lizard but with the sonic properties of the still au courant combination of post-garage chugging and No Fun noise. Everything is distorted, not just amps and vocals but the mix itself. I consider this a pretty dated affectation, but hey, it seems to work for this band.

The nasty riff of “How to Kill a Career” displays a canny knowingness that belies the title. And indeed, there’s something fairly mannered about music that wants desperately to come across as dangerous. There's the screamed incantation of “(sevensevenseven),” like Boris circa Heavy Rocks, while “Walt” is squarely in the MBV meets metalcore vein. “Accidents” sounds like they’ve been listening to Converge’s Jane Doe quite a bit, but Geisha doesn’t quite possess the musical fluency or nimbleness to pull off the quick changes.

The closing “Letterbombs from Lesbians” is a long thrasher, which riffs down to half-time and back – that’s right, kids, a genuine breakdown – with lots of quiet-to-loud build-ups of noise. It ends pretty tritely with gentle piano serving as a backdrop to some mass murderer’s confession (whew, talk about mannered).

Things are better in places. Sludgy melting chord progressions seem to fit Geisha’s aesthetic more than laser-locked Helmet or Unsane explosions. And they do this best on the fairly shimmering “Bondage Death,” and the excellent “Love Theme from Reich Here Reich Now,” which hint at the band’s potential. But then things seem to coast a bit, as with the snarling bass and amp squall on “Riddle.” I don’t know, the individual elements are in place but attitude just isn’t enough for me. The riffs and the textures just aren’t that distinctive to my ears and, while there are good moments and good tracks, there aren’t enough of them. This album may have been mind-blowing about 12 years ago. Now it’s competent, occasionally enjoyable, but none too memorable.

By Jason Bivins

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