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Monday, June 18, 2012

Cactus Truck- Brand New for China! (Public Eyesore Records, 2012) ***½

By Philip Coombs

It starts with a bang! A starter pistol of sorts. This fight to the death, this Brand New For China! album by Cactus Truck has begun. Weapons are chosen. Onno Govaert on drums, Jasper Stadhouders on guitars, and John Dikeman on saxophone, two from the Netherlands and one from America respectively, step into the ring to see who will come out alive holding the recording.

Track one, Aporia, gets to the heart of the matter quickly with all three members fighting for the last available sliver of bandwidth to squeeze their point of view into. Stadhouders pulls up an impenetrable curtain of sound, Govaert's use of the kick drum is like a man with a death wish searching for land mines, and Dikeman plays is if in a headlock. His sound is very purposeful from the strain in the upper registers to the distortion on the opposite end. Aporia is a wonderfully thought out track on this 31 minute record and definitely it's focal point as it gives us the roadmap that the rest of the album follows. It, over the course of its 10 and a half minute duration, gives us pure raw punk aggression, to a diminution, to a lone pleading cry from the saxophone before ramping the whole thing up again to its original fury. Some great playing here.

A band I would definitely love to see and experience live.

With some of their juvenile song titles aside, la la la la labia time!, or The snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea, which fall into their punk aesthetic, there are some very mature and experienced interactions and decisions within the tunes on this album, which definitively places it back to the jazz tradition.

On Coitiphobe, Dikeman steps back to let the rhythm section have a duo moment. If you are quick enough, the album is peppered with such moments. Whether it be the sax and drums or any other duo incarnation, (there are several really good ones on Sweet Movie) they are worth waiting for, but enjoy them because they don't last very long, as this is not the type of band that likes standing in a ring without throwing punches. Almost to a fault.

Brand New For China! reads like a calling card, unapologetically letting us know what their agenda is, from the 3, thirty second blasts of intensity, laced around the 4 longer tracks, to their choice of album cover art. They mean business, and like anyone from the punk tradition, they don't care what we think. I can't wait to see what else they bring to the table on their next effort.

Check out Cactus Truck here:

The album can be ordered directly from the label.

© stef


Anonymous said...

Strange that some people associate this fierce music with punk. I hated punk from the start . Not because of it's supposed agression (it was in fact very corny compared to a lot of modern classical, jazz and it's supposed counterpart prog-rock) but because their hatred to everything which had to do with technical skills and virtuosity. Because they did not have those skills themselves. If Cactus truck would have existed in 1976 they probably would have been hated by the punks in equal measure than anything else they hated (which was almost everything not punk but certainly all music complex and technical demanding) Cactus truck is viruosic as hell and it is nothing else than an updated version of free jazz and jazz rock (and listening to the bass I can not imagine that Stadhouders doesn't like the playing of Chris Squire)