Captain Nowhere [CD and LP]

Tuesday, 04 October 2011

Over the years, plenty of bands have indulged in mind-expanding substances and their music has duly reflected it with vibes of “methodical otherness” radiating from the results (see Butthole Surfers, 13 th Floor Elevators, Pink Floyd and even Queens Of The Stone Age to name a few) which implies that some pharmaceutical weirdness is going on. Such workings have become commonplace in rock at this point, but Captain Nowhere's music is something else again. On Party Time Inc., the band has gone so far outside the box (maybe with the help of weed, downers and acid) as to forget there was ever a box at all – thereby leaving all of those bands who dabble in “stoner rock” looking like pale poseurs in the process; this enormous, multi-format (the release includes one CD and one four-song, twelve-inch LP) collection simultaneously blows past all the other stoner bands working right now by not really moving much at all and upends the theory that stoner rock should be technically accomplished in any way by simply experimenting with sound, tonality and texture. The results aren't always the easiest things to listen to (how long can anyone really stay interested in a ten-minute song which sits on one chord?), but it can be fascinating from a psychological standpoint as listeners become acquainted with the band and how its creative process works (or doesn't work, depending upon the depth of one's will to be weird).

Captain Nowhere's weirdness is already locked down and absolute as “Sing Along” rolls over to open the vinyl portion of Party Time Inc. [editor's note: the songs on the vinyl portion are also reprised on the CD portion], and the band really makes an effort to show just how rudderless and uninspired  they can be on their worst days (sample lyric: “I know how hard it is to write a song for everyone to sing along.”), but still get a few grins because the vocal melody is just catchy enough to have listeners singing along; this sort of meta-rock approach (it is simultaneously bad, and offers commentary on “bad music”) has been done before, but it has been long enough since Max Webster penned an ode to fish heads that it sounds fresh again. This sort of asinine trend continues into the over-ten-minute “epic” “Another Letter, Another Letter,” which both drags and plods its way along with a sound so languid it may even depress Jandek fans. Nothing changes on the flip-side of the twelve-inch as, while coming dangerously close to showing signs of life in “Holiday Song,” the album-closing “Moon Song” simply sounds like someone hit record on ten minutes spent in the band's rubber room while they contemplated the possibility of writing a song with limited success.

Having taken as long as the LP portion of Party Time Inc. does only to offer negligible returns would turn many people off the prospect of subjecting themselves to the greater amount found on the CD portion but, even so, perverse curiosity will compel a few to see the album through. Who would those listeners be? Those who may be feeling a bit guilty about enjoying their lives too much recently and those who slow down on the highway when they pass an accident for the most part; and here they'll be rewarded with more of the same brand of bad-acid-trip malaise that the LP offered.

Those who try hard enough to like what they're hearing on Party Time Inc. may claim to spot some ghosts of very, very early Flaming Lips (think the short period when Mark Coyne was in the band, before Wayne took the wheel) in songs like “Trip Inside This House,” “Hey Monkey” and “Karaoke After Midnight,” but such comparisons could be as easily shot down as the stories of those who have claimed to see the Loch Ness monster – they are the stories of those who just want desperately to believe they haven't wasted their time. If that's what it takes though, so be it; the one thing that no one can argue is that Party Time Inc. is the work of a band who couldn't be anything other than a cult band if it wanted to; Captain Nowhere is bizarre and will have fans on the outermost fringes, but those who stick even slightly to the mainstream will be completely disinterested in it.



Party Time Inc.
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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