GLASS EYE WORLD - Deniz Tek & The Golden Breed (Career Records)
A change of direction is this, the teaming of Radio Birdman's Deniz Tek and his West Coast (geographically, not musical genre speaking) band of the Godoy twins, Art (bass and occasional guitar) and Steve (drums). Recorded at studios in Vancouver and Montana, with one track from a live-in-front-of-a-garage-audience session, it's the first release on the label established by Deniz and business partner Ron Sanchez, the latter a studio owner and leader of psychedelic band Donovan's Brain (who, incidentally, recently recruited Deniz into their ranks). This disc is unbuffed rock with a straight-ahead, punk undercurrent that's almost English in parts.
Its predecessors in the recent Tek canon were varied. They ran the gamut from tough garage rock (Deep Reduction's "2" and its eponymous, if slightly less focussed, forerunner), studio-buffed rock-pop with psych leanings ("Equinox"), a spirited and rough live disc ("Got Live") to an eclectic, experimental outing ("Le Bonne Route"). That's ignoring the Birdman live-studio disc "Ritualism", the great but sonically flawed "Dodge Main" project and the more recent (and wonderful) live set "Ann Arbor Revival Meeting", where Dr Tek guests with Scott Morgan's Powertrane.
This is no less varied and like most of those albums, marks a sharing of the spotlight with collaborators, most notably Art Godoy who takes centre mic for four songs. Of those cuts, "Let's Go" is the pick, with its anthemic, singalong chorus and double-tracked vocals. "Out of Action" is a spikey rocker with the vocals buried and "Wild Card" is a ragged stop-start thumper with a dirty surf undercurrent. "1 Eye Sam", from whence the album draws its title, is all bristling guitars and attitude.
Deniz's own songs are terrific. One of them, "Always Out of Reach", is reckoned to be, by Ron Sanchez's reckoning, the best Tek toon since 1978. Dunno if I'm going that far but I concur with the sentiment that is is a hell great song. Good 'nuff by recently demo'd by Radio Birdman- hear it here first. Then there's "2 Pam Chloride". Planted squarely in the middle of the disc, it was recorded at an invite-only show in the Billings, Montana, shed of Tek calibrator Dave Weyer and absolutely powers, all hook-laden chorus chant and paint-stripping guitar. This one made an appearance on a hard-to-find Japanese compilation ("Rawk 'n' Roll Revolution" on Myrmecoleo) but sounds better here. The other outstanding song to these ears is "What It's For", a deft rocker that burns itself into the mind after just a couple of spins.
"Dreaming Clifford Possum" is a menacing slow(er) guitar burn, (very) loosely in the style of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" if only for its similar theme of cultural imperialism. This one's told through the eyes of Australia's most notable dot painter. "Flight 19" has lyrics that can only be Dr Tek's, touching on doomed flights and similar happenings in the Bermuda Triangle. We all need to disappear now and then, maybe not so permanently. "Baja Confidential" is the closer and an exception, a quiet, almost resigned instrumental that serves as a wind-down from all that's gone before.
Excuse the enthusiasm (and, by way of declaration, I have been spruiking this, in an honorary capacity, to various journos around the place) but it's an album that's grown with repeated spins. You'll not find any choirboys on "Glass Eye World". By his own admission, Deniz has "guitar player's vocals" and Art's from the belt-it-out-and-see-ya-at-the-other-end school, but if you came looking for Mantovani, you clicked on the wrong link. What might be of more interest is the fact that the Godoys run a ship-shape engine room with nary a wasted note or fill out of place. For once the term "power trio" is not a misnomer. Dr Tek operates without an anaesthetic to apply his usual sharp guitar incisions.
The whole package is enhanced by clear and sympathetic production. Having been lucky enough to hear an earlier mix of the unmastered version some time ago, I have to say the final product is a street or two ahead. - The Barman
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