Review ·

The idea behind Toronto's Holy Fuck is particularly cringe-inducing: free-form, improvised indie-techno. Or techno without laptops, programmers, and all that you'd expect. Yikes, right? The idea of listening to a band jam out on eight-minute tracks kind of goes against the general principles of indie music: thought, planning, pretension, et cetera. Spontaneity and all that crap really fall into hippie jam rock or maybe noise -- not in indie's precious little circle. The band includes members of Toronto's By Divine Right and King Cobb Steelie, and they apparently just haul their gear (mixers, drums, weird found toy objects) into the studio with no concrete songs written and feel it out 'til they hit a productive stride.

 

But it works -- sometimes. The tracks rotate between noisy but controlled chaos, synthy pop bliss and unwarranted snoozers. The propulsive drumming is the band's saving grace, guiding through the redundancy and busting into noise-rock disarray as needed. Particularly on tracks such as "Casio Bossa Nova," which sounds a lot like you'd expect from the title, the members find the right balance of teetering and bizarre Casio keyboard beats and urgent rhythm. Unfortunately, for every moment of raucous synchrony there's a great deal of improvisations veering off course into ten-minute sessions that lead nowhere. The album's last two tracks, "K. Rhythm Part 1" and "K. Rhythm Part 2," are the major culprit in this regard, with "Part 1" getting lost in its own love of beat-chaos and "Part 2" mellowing out only to bring back the nonsense. It makes you hope they at least had fun recording it.

 

Not that the band's improvisations don't yield some charms. Pretty much the first four tracks here are keepers, showcasing that these guys had some great ideas heading in but veered toward narcissism around the halfway point. And the improvised nature leads me to believe that this is probably one of the best live shows to catch -- a fact those who saw them opening on Wolf Parade's recent tour can probably attest to. The lack of U.S. release/label all but confirms that this disc is ultimately a specialty item, and Holy Fuck is the type of experiment to be taken in in-person.

 

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Holy Fuck Web site

Streaming audio

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