The Ed Wood Jr EP, ‘Feats’, was a genuine trip into the unknown for this reviewer but this time, there are expectations of quality in place and it is with some sense of pleasure that I placed the album ‘Ruban de Mobius’ into the CD tray. At nine tracks and forty minutes it’s a relatively short album, but Ed Wood are the sort of band who concentrate on the all-important quality rather than quantity and that is something that immediately shows as the Sonic Youth-style opening ripples through the speakers.
Opening track ‘TopbI’ is one of the oddest intros I have heard in a long time. Gently picked guitars ripple while strange effects such as reverse delay send the notes scattering all over the shop until suddenly a massive chord hits you square between the eyes and you ready yourself for a punk blast that never arrives. Instead the band unleash a taught exercise in dynamics that even Fugazi would struggle to emulate. Stinging chords dissolve into the gentlest of moments, jazzy drums shift into pure punk blasts and the bass glues the whole thing together even though it must require the strength, diligence and foresight of superman. In one track Ed Wood have already smashed my expectations to smithereens and I’m left wondering how much better this band can get. ’20 pounds’ appears without warning, straight from the back of ‘TopbI’ and it announces itself with a disturbing sample warning of the perils of consumerism set to a clattering, off-kilter track that is part punk, part neurosis-style art rock. Complex, yet accessible even if you lack the degree in advanced mathematics required to negotiate the multiple tempos, Ed wood balance their amazingly taught art-rock with the heavy, pure-adrenalin-rush edge needed to make good old fashioned heavy rock with the result that you can be awe-struck by their skill, but you’re often too busy jumping around the room to care.
‘infinity’ is up next, and it slows the tempo somewhat for a few seconds before a nimble riff explodes into glorious life and the band are off again, indulging in a Dillinger Escape Plan moment which emphasises the jazz and tones down the metal aspects to create an exciting jazz/punk fusion that is never incoherent due to the necessary distortion of DEP’s frantic grindcore but which will still rock you to the core thanks to the frantic shifts into Sonic youth-style mentalism. It is here, for the first time, that vocals appear – screamed, tormented vocals that wail over a doom-laden riff that seemingly appears from a different band except for the jazzy interludes that remind you who you’re listening to. ‘Marcel’ is just plain disconcerting with the most complex music yet set to multiple samples which run over each other disorientating the listener and leaving you utterly defenceless for the heavy onslaught that starts at about 01.30 into the track. ‘Tap’ is another blast through stop-start jazzy rhythms and hard rock with the result that by the end of the track you may well feel thoroughly worn out and more than a little in awe of a band who sound this tight.
‘Kung fu chien’ (as if Kung Fu pandas weren’t enough!), is a bouncy number that is the closest to ‘instrument’-era Fugazi that the band come on this release, and while vocals are present they’re resolutely low in the mix and recall Refused. ‘Art brut’ is a slow, heavy number that suggests a certain acquaintance with doom despite all the Yes-esque excursions that the band take along the way. ‘Zemzan’ is a furiously eccentric blast of jazzed up energy with art-rock elements and the track is destined to make your brain ache. The closing ‘-‘ offers up an ambient antidote to the craziness found elsewhere and ends with a frenzied buzzing as if your brain has finally processed everything it’s heard and overloaded.
It’s hard to know what to say after hearing a band like Ed wood. Certainly they are not for everyone. Straight forward metal fans are more than likely to become irritated with the endless time changes and myriad ideas, but for those whose tastes run to the more unusual (say, Jesus lizard, butthole surfers, fugazi, sonic youth or refused) then this is clearly going to send you into orbit. Utterly flawless in recording and execution, Ed Wood are an astonishingly tight and talented band who deserve to gain fans far and wide. Perfect.