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Black Helicopter | That Specific Function | review | rock | Lollipop
That Specific Function (Traktor7)
by Brian Varney
Fairly high-concept stuff here. Apparently, the story is something like this: Two guys work in a convenience store and are subjected to the daily insane rantings of a homeless guy/street person who frequents their store. These two guys are also musicians and decide to record the guy's words with a hidden tape recorder, set them to music, and release an album, the result of which is That Specific Function. The final bow on the package being the really cool gatefold cover which opens to reveal a pop-up convenience store. There's no biographical information on the CD itself, so all of what I've just told you is hearsay and second-hand knowledge, so I may've botched a fact or two, but the general idea is correct.
Sounds like a lotta concept, I know, and that often leads to music high on pretense and low on rock quotient, but the songs contained herein do function as actual rock music capable of standing alone, even if you're not paying attention to the words or familiar with the concept. Which, of course, is the very best type of rock music. Musically, you can expect to encounter monstrously sluggish tempos, the thud-heavy, stuttering beats and ponderous basslines keeping more or less the same speed and emotional heft on every track as the guitars drone compellingly and the vocalist intones the words in a spoken monotone that reminds me of Lou Reed. This makes the band's music sound a lot more ordinary than it is, especially when everything comes together as on standout track "Mousemeat," where profound, self-reflective lyrics are matched with the sort of melody that you don't even realize is there until it's already stuck under your skin and a riveting guitar solo.
Though I enjoy this album at its best, all ten tracks are a bit much to take at once, as the deliberate ugliness of the lyrics and the band's mad droning start to meld into a giant grotesque mass. I can't really see the same concept working again on the band's next album (if there is one), but regarded as a stand-alone document, That Specific Function works surprisingly well.