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Mind Flayer - Take Your Skin Off

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Artist: Mind Flayer

Album: Take Your Skin Off

Label: Bulb

Review date: Apr. 21, 2003

All of Your Skin Are Belong to Us

Mindflayer have been going at it for a while, but Take Your Skin Off really has me beaming. Their previous output, mainly CD-Rs on Thunder Records, were pummeling stuff-skull cracking drums and debilitating analog fuzz. The recordings were decidedly low-fi as track listings, song names and other details were pretty useless. Put the CD in, press ‘play’ and prepare to be rocked for an hour. It didn't matter what the songs were called, what that motherfucker with the telephone receiver mic was screaming about or how it sounded like the synth player had ten tentacled hands each playing a busted pulse generator. The CD starts, punches your gut and leaves you hunched over, panting for more.

Space (a.k.a. Matt Brinkman) still releases the deepest and dirtiest electric thuds, while Time (a.k.a. Brian Chippendale) keeps up with ritualistic, tribal drones, but one thing that separates Skin Off (on Bulb, this time) from these other recordings is the sound quality. Some of the vocals are audible and the drums are crisper, and the subtle creak and pang of electronics are more vibrant. I can also tell the differences between the songs now. They're still intense, but the rhythms shuffle and the electronic sounds are clearer.

The most surprising difference, however, is the political content of the song titles. Musically, nothing in "drop bass not bombs" or "everyone dies (we won anyway)" suggests a political stance, but the titles’ apparent ideology are hard to ignore. I'd expect more subdued versions of these sentiments from opinion poll-tested MTV ads, but not from the world of home-cooked noise, where bands don't make overt political statements very often.

The opening song "Take Your Shoes Off" (you have to remove the shoes before the skin, dig?) gets such a great beat going that the listener forgets the group's unorthodox instrumentation. Mindflayer get asses moving and heads nodding by tapping into the universal primal lock-groves that inspired Derrick Carter or Steve Reich's "Clapping Music." Mindflayer are having a huge, subterranean disco party and you're invited (pending disrobing of all outer garments).

On the less structured end of the freak-out spectrum, "Are you fucked up" begins with just that question. "Are you fucked up? / Are you ok?" Space mumbles, before Time begins a spaced-out clatter that segues perfectly into the spazziness of "gold lake splicer". The duo are at their most destructive on "I fell into a pool of crawling chaos" and "street attack with mongrels elephants, glitter, etc.". Both songs are powerfully confusing, peaking and falling apart. The final track "you're dead at the bottom of a dungeon, deal with it" (and CD-only; the LP has hand-screened covers by Time, so both recorded formats have their perks) is a cut and paste medley: the condensation of the Mindflayer oeuvre into a single easy-to-swallow pill.

By Marc Gilman

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