IF YA NOT CAREFUL WITH ELECTRICITY IT WILL KILL YA - Nunchukka Superfly (Chatterbox Records)
Bassist Ray Ahn (Hard Ons, Nunchukka Superfly) recently complained to a mutual friend that his record store job meant all he did was sell T-shirts and jewellery because no-one buys rock and roll anymore. Given that grim assessment of the Aussie recorded music retail scene, I bet he's especially not expecting the fourth installment in Nunchukka Superfly's body-of-work to set any mainstream sales chart high-water marks. That said, your life is empty if this band hasn't entered it.
The world that Nunchukka Superfly inhabits is a globe of stormy darkness flecked by flickering, bleary coloured lights, blaring noise and explosions of psychedelic fire. But like the brown acid at Woodstock or the bowl of oesophagus-burning fruit punch at granny's 85th birthday party, it won't go away if you ignore it.
The Nunchukkas started as a life-after-the-Hard-Ons spin-off for that band's Ray and Blackie, and have continued on in a parallel universe as an adjunct to their revived parent band. They challenge preconceptions by either assaulting or stroking aural sensibilities at numbingly loud volume. Theirs' is a shell of brutal noise that regularly turns turtle to show off a beautiful, chiming underbelly. If this is psych, it's of the hardest variety but its structured arrangements means it always falls short of noise for noise's sake.
I dunno if "If Ya Not Careful..." is better than its predecessors "Nunchukka Superfly", "There Are No Accidents Only Fuckwits" and "III"; it's probably just different. It seems a natural progression - less sudden tempo changes and more of Blackie doing his Monty Pythonesque vocal bit - but still riding a heavy-as-hell undercurrent thanks to the monstrous rush of Ahn and drummer Joel Ellis (Mink Jaguar).
The "feel" tracks (the tribal opener "Speak Ill Of The Dead Get Together" and "What...") lay out tarmac-thick grids of rhythm as bookends to the album, with Blackie laying out some pealing PiL-like chords on the "nicer" intervening cuts like the very cool "The Sky Belongs To Us", which recalls the Hard Ons' best pop moments.
Fear not. The more explosive cuts like "Door" will still leave you on the floor, battered and bruised like you've been atomic dropped by a marauding pack of psychedelic storm troopers. Nunchukka Superfly just knows how to fuck up preconceptions.
It's coming up to a decade-and-a-half of existence for Nunchukka Superfly and all but a handful of critics are waking up to them. This is the sort of secret a major promoter or agent needs to match with some moderately confrontational international headliner so he or she can get their arse kicked in front of thousands of people. Maybe then Ray can get a break from flogging Metallica chain wallets and Iron Maiden sweatbands. - The Barman
III - Nunchukka Superfly (Shock)
If there really is a thin line dividing genius from madness, Nunchukka Superfly are playing a delicate balancing game. This is the third album from the three-piece that churns out a mixture of hard psych, art punk and surly hard rock, and it's teetering on the edge, masquerading as the soundtrack to some dark and loud nightmare.
If you're unfamiliar with the Nunchukka Superfly modus operandi, throwing away expectations is as good as any place to start. They might be 2/3 of the Hard Ons (Blackie and Ray) but the lineage and energy levels are where comparisons end. There are similarities to the Nunchukka's self-titled debut album in that the songs have a definite form and (sometimes loose) structure - but the tunes are just as likely to spiral off into another direction. It's certainyl not as abstract as Beefheart but there's little in the way of traditional verse-chorus-verse either.
These are very definitely songs and it hangs together without ever becoming pretentious. "III" seems more realised and self-assured than the first disc but I'm in no position to say how it stacks up against Album Number Two, "There Are No Accidents - Only Fuckwits"; I didn't score it, although the title and the contents of "III" mean I will correct that oversight.
Here's a taste: "Gelatine" is the most sublime approximation of Sonic Youth in listenable mode, a big fat and determined bassline driving warm vocals and trippy lyrics before a long, stunning guitar coda. "Get Fucked" is a ball of clattering bass and guitar. "All My Friends Are Happy" is bleak, industrial psychedelia, with Neil Young, "Arc"-like feedback overlaid with an annoying-as-hell tape glitch and a looped vocal fragment. "Tattoo shop riff" is just that - a sonic drill that gets under your skin.
Are you ready for the sprawling 23-minute opus of "I'm Really Into My Boyfriend's Band"? If that sounds like a rock opera, don't sweat it. It's a marathon trip but worth the effort. By comparison,"Ageing Rocker Squeezing Into a Pair of Tights" is light relief riding a "big hair band" riff. The title can't be bettered as a descriptor.
There's a shortage of rock and roll records that push the bounds and demand a lot. "III" is maybe the most challenging album you''ll hear out of Australia in 2004. - The Barman
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