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Published: 2003/11/28
by Glenn Alexander

Gas Up, Blow Up – Drums and Tuba


With this below-the-radar release, Drums and Tuba have affirmed that even

with this collection of previously scrapped and overlooked material, they're

still a force. What sets them

apart is they are one of a select

few strictly instrumental bands whose music is entirely unique and free of

blatant self-indulgence, which puts them in a league with practically no


On Gas Up, Blow Up they assert the same eminently danceable, yet

craftily complex and heady attitude they have for years. Yet, they still

sound as fresh as they ever have. Drums and Tuba practice musical

abstraction without ambiguity or incoherence. This is achieved through a

razor-sharp focus and deftly crafted mood that forces the listener into a

state of adrenaline-induced elation.

From the trance-like opening track, "The Great White Whale," to the harder

hitting "Zepplin," (Mostly Ape sessions), they emit the same level of

and commitment. On "Zepplin," and "Rock the Mess," also from Mostly

sessions, D&T interpret rock and roll in a way truly all their own. Besides

the fact that no other band has a similar line-up of drums, guitar, and

horns, they make their mark on rock through a brazen approach to

improvisation and an almost single-minded concentration from the band

members to push each other's limits by way of exhaustion. With Neal

McKeeby's frenzied guitar and Tony Nozero's hard, focused, and incessantly

inventive drumming, they create a one of a kind sound stamped with the

indelible mark of these thoroughly methodical, yet free-spirited musicians.

On "The Short Giraffe," (culled from the Vinyl Killer sessions),
Brian Wolff

(horns) infuses his wonderful penchant for melody with an other-worldly and

almost offensive use of impassioned off-key blurts from his trumpet or tuba

for seconds on-end during two of the songs climactic waves. These islands

of aggression are surrounded by a sea of beautiful calmness and peace, which

builds slowly from the beginning and tapers off towards the end into

silence. This song, like many others on Gas Up, Blow Up, illustrates

D&T's ability to make music that is visceral and psychologically

illuminating at the same time.

The dream-like notion of disbelief is present throughout this collection.

How can a band create a sound so indistinguishable yet instantly

mesmerizing? Perhaps to answer this question would ruin the whole point of

why we listen to a band like Drums and Tuba. The various elements that go

into creating an art of substance are not the things that excite us.

Rather, it's the formation of those elements into a single, living,

entity capable of moving us that gives us the reason to go out and

experience it.

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