The very term Chemtrail brings forth icy imagery of space-aged emissions draped in coded secrecy. High above the surface, their condensed form holds shape for what seems like an eternity before free falling into the atmosphere, drifting into complex and scattered disarray and stretching the imagination of each and every earthbound viewer that beholds them. With a seemingly preordained purpose they merge, crashing head over heels into each other on their shape-shifting journey to anywhere. And like that description, the instrumental group Chemtrail drives their skyscraping compositional talents along the very same lane of evolutional expression.
In the last year or so, Chemtrail has been gaining nice ground in the entertainment industry. Their music was picked up and used on season number six of the successful PBS show Roadtrip Nation and they landed some of their intricate compositional fare on the popular iPhone game app, Backlash. With their latest disc titled Youth Obsessed Death Culture, the band has once again achieved new altitude, spraying the masses in arcs of colorful sound and dynamic sensibilities that dart in and under, criss crossing the very idea we call original music.
Now mind you, Youth Obsessed Death Culture isn’t for everyone. The somber and melancholia tones spiral you down and into some ultra blue soul on the disk. It can lead to hypnosis and depression for some, or lead to inspirational elation for others. Most I know are more than ready to embrace and take the wild meditative ride that this disc offers. If you dig the style of Mogwai, Russian Circles or Explosions In The Sky, then you’re going to love what Chemtrails Youth Obsessed Death Culture brings to the table.
Some of the highlights on this nine-song project are as follows. Track number three, “Space Invaders:” A glistening, poison berry that pops right off the tree and into the tangled fray of compositional bramble. Featuring edgy, echoed guitars dancing high above snarling octave lines and double-timed drums and bass, the chimey verse melodies stand out clean and clear within the heavily-timed delays, jumping out-of-the-way in time for the hyperbole synth gristle that bites deep into the heart of the chorus section. It’s interesting to note that even though this is not a vocal record, the arrangements aren’t overbearing or self-indulgent and they time and build movements to work in the fluid part/counterpart direction of a pop composition.
The main stand out track is definitely “Mischief Night,” a song with so much power and emotion that I’m surprised it hasn’t been snapped up for a vampire soundtrack as of this printing. The drowned out heavy guitar vamp on this romanticized tragedy rocker kicks straight into the hearts and minds of tweens, teens and in betweens as it weaves in and out of its own slamming outer limits. The handpicked electric melody in the verse section sparkles and shimmers, speaking myriads with simplicity and layering, setting up the stark and dark church organs and enigma coded bass lines singing underneath the surface. As the band bubbles and gears up, the drums spit venomous marching machine gun volley and tumbling toms spill into free falling synth lines that dart into a gritty and ominous guitar riffs, which rival any spy-based action thriller theme. Rhythmic guitar scrapes and hard picked notes break this tune down into sheer harmonic overload and bass and drum cacophony.
“Means To An End” is yet another killer instrumental that I could see on a soundtrack. Chemtrail take their time with the set up, creating their lush imagery through stark use of space and unadulterated melody. Repetition and simplicity work well here as they rein it in till about 2:21, at which point they break free, pounding every ounce of life into the melody and rhythm. Minor-keyed pianos spill down over frenetic bass, drums and reversed guitars, catching everything and pulling it down into the valley of their sound. The tide ebbs around 3:27 as the band drops way back into a dark and ominous Portishead, two-chord tirade that swirls madly, emerging into the light with a single-flailed guitar melody, that shoots way over the stratosphere of this joyful, decaying noise. The whole thing rumbles down into a 4/4 beat and a music-boxed guitar and keyboard outro. Theses guys love to focus and tear apart, rising to the theme again and again in a fresh and interesting way.
“Solid Ground” fades in with Pink Floyd-styled panache, droning synths hold the line for guitars and back-faded drums that thunder out their coded language and guitars fly high, like satellites around the core. Huge cymbal statements break at every eight count. “Think Tank” ushers in analog warm pianos and synth/guitar lines to daze the listener into meditative solace and “Escape Artist” sneaks its way straight off of the plastic it was layered onto. Drums lead the way with guitar trills and bass pounding momentum right on the tail of this tune before breaking out of its cell and going ballistic at around 2:03, with what sounds like a fuzzed bass just ripping up and into the gut of this searing three chorder. Guitar octaves and staccato down strokes tear into the back end as drums nail this right to the proverbial cross.
Opening tracks, “Peace Weapon” and “Honorable Mention,” although well written and complex, were a bit long for what they had to say in the context of the disk and might have fared better in a different order or length. Still, it’s a fairly small gripe when you look at the complete picture that Youth Obsessed Death Culture truly is.
Chemtrail will be unveiling their experimental experience this Friday, April 8 at The Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park along with Old Nick and punk rock brats The Obvious. For more information on this stellar group head over to: chemtrailmusic.com or asburylanes.com
Brookdale Guitar Show @ Donald D. Warner Student Life Center, April 10 Brookdale Public Radio is proud to present the original and best guitar show on the Jersey Shore, and this year, the 2011 Brookdale Guitar Show is moving to April! The 2011 show will fully utilize the multilevel Donald D. Warner Student Life Center on Brookdale Community College’s Lincroft campus, which provides comfortable large venues for performers, patrons and vendors.
For the first time in 14 years, the Brookdale Guitar Show will be held on April 10, 2011. Spring weather will allow the event to expand its success to the outdoor patio of the Warner Student Life Center. Once again, the show will boast two large rooms of vendors, a full day of music, clinics and giveaways! Regular admission is $15. Children up to the age of 5 are free. Discounted tickets are available at the door with any valid student ID card, a 90.5 The NIGHT Membership Card, or an instrument to sell or trade. Purchase your tickets online or at the door the day of the event. Parking is free. Expected attendance is approximately 3,000 guests. And don’t miss the history and influence of Danelectro guitars!
This Neptune, NJ homecoming presentation is an open invitation to all guitaraholics, the curious, and the plain ole’ disoriented surf zombies to come and learn about funky lo-tech Danelectro guitars, basses, amps and even the amazing Coral Electric Sitar! Participating will be Jersey Shore Rock and Roll musicians and former Danelectro employees, Sonny Kenn and Vini “Maddog” Lopez. Uh oh, I wonder if “you know who” will show up. A complete list of performers, clinics and other entertainment are being updated daily on the show’s website, brookdaleguitarshow.com.