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Published: 2006/01/12
by Randy Ray

Kaleidoscalp – Buckethead

Kaleidoscalp – Buckethead

Tzadik Records 7409

Inbred Mountain – Bucketheadland


After Buckethead’s almost Santana-like commercial release of Enter the Chicken (multiple vocalists?!), these two recent albums from the Bucket factory find our friendly wormhole mutant delivering huge chunks of electronic noise for the speed and horror flick junkies. Nary a verse or chorus — just Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen on 400 hits of good acid and enough reds and vitamin C and cocaine to lay waste to a room full of crazed nerds on an all week RISK binge. Bucket’s image is one of mid-high school black trench coat wearing zombie killers; however, lose the mask and you get monstrously great ear candy. These slabs ain’t for the felines in the house, the weak of heart, the melody-starved or the linear-minded, so be forewarned. Let’s open up the basement door and turn off the lights.

Kaleidoscalp features our guitar hero laying waste to his axe with a traditional bass and drums accompaniment. However, this is where all ordinary sonic delights go out the broken backwoods window of Blair Witchland. Bucket is into major electronic noodling these days as he cuts and chops various snippets of noise and welds them together with weird bits of incredibly delicious slabs of jingly jangly death metal assaults. The kick drum gets a little too mid-‘80s Metallica for my taste but Lars Ulrich was always an acquired taste, anyway, you dig? Elsewhere, when Bucket isn’t twisting knobs and splicing sound bites together like some mad scientist sonic version of Russian film montage czar Sergei Eisenstein, he layers brief moments of trippy licks that have no beginning or end — these are sounds that are meant to start in the middle, peakpeakpeakpeak, and then veer off into some other neck of the woods dripping chunks of knob-twisting debris along the way.

The song titles are gloriously witty, stupid, nutzoid and downright just plain, well, right. Case in point, such lovely chapter headings as “The Last Ride of the Bozomobile” (alas, not a song about one of the two buses used on the Dead’s Europe ’72 tour), “Rack Maintenance” (insert your own hip porn joke here), and, of course, “The Slunk, the Gutter and the Candlestick Maker" (soon to be a Brothers Grimm classic). Anyway, Buckethead fucks around for 12 tracks with an updated version of ELP meets Jeff Beck in a fantastic instrumental ride reminiscent of their mid-‘70s triumphs.

However, at journey’s end, when the highway along the woods has been filled with strange road kill, we come to track #13 in this Year of the Undead 13th Anniversary of the KFC Man’s Career. “She Sells Sea Shells By the Slaughterhouse” ain’t just another pretty title. The tune is an acoustic bouquet for that lovely Bride of Frankenstein waiting for The Thing at the end of the night. Bucket pulls off the wistful ballad with taste and restrainttwo ingredients normally, thank the guitar gods, he usually doesn’t dig out of his bag of electro genius. But, waitafter seven minutes of John Cage silence, Bucket reenters with a Jimmy Page-like “Dazed and Confused” bowed-guitar psycho strut down a cliff into chaotic oblivion.

I picked up Inbred Mountain on Bucket Tour with some of the other hetty suburban guitar wooks who frequent his strangely brilliant displays of death guitar wankery. The label lists this band as Bucketheadland but I’m not really sure what the distinction is between head’ and headland’ after listening to it (and if you think I’m going to waste my legendary research skills on such an odd morsel of trivia, well, not tonight, ladies).

If possible, Mountain is an even further foray into avant-garde Bucket-o-mania. These tracks average six minutes in length and jump all over the highway like a three year old navigating a big rig 18-wheeler. The sounds bleed your ears, biyotch and then, suddenly stop to dance around the ice before the surface shatters and you’re drowning in mid-‘80s synth and hair metal motifs mixed with some early ’70s Scorp operatic German rock. “Johnny be Slunk” is the eight-and-a-half minute hit single on another planet in Alpha Centauri as Bucket races lead and chord changes while the drummer attempts to interpret whatever the hell direction his Overlord (Underlord?) Master is taking.

This is good shit but it requires a wee bit of patience and a deranged sense of organized chaos. Meanwhile, its evil cousin, “Flock of Slunks” is downright scary — not a track to listen to with the power out and no one home. Suddenly, Queensryche in the 23rd century enters to be replaced by a John Carpenter horror soundtrack on 78 RPM. Againthe kind, man. “Escape from Inbred Mountain” ends this bizarre cornucopia of Bucket madness with another William S. Burroughs cut and machete and slay them all beast.

Overall, if you like your Bucket dirty, kinky and uncorrupted (like I do) then you’ll want to track down these two slabs of wickedly wacked-out enemies of the ear drum. Buckethead is still toying with the song structure as a mighty meat market chopping block so lap it up while you can. Hit the lights, crank the knob to 11 and get anti-social. After all, weird is good in our club.

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