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Published: 2008/11/16
by Randy Ray

Money – Skeletons

Tomlab

Car horns howl, piano riffs loop, footsteps scamper, volume escalates, vocals enter, and the city stirs to sleep while remaining awake.

And that’s just the first track on an album with a loose concept about the hazards of the quest for money and its many entanglements by this New York-via-Ohio quartet. Money is also casually yet carefully split into halves: longer pieces appearing on the second half, shorter pieces on the first. Interspersed are interstitials coloring another weird layer of substance from some extraterrestrial presenceechoes of statements made elsewhere and the bits (“Fill My Pockets Full” “Dripper,” and “Lullaby”) have found a home.

Of the shorter tracks, “The Things” stomps along in a pure juggernaut of keyboards, randomly plucked guitar riffs, machine gun vocals, and layered horns. The piece covers a great deal of sonic space via an insatiable ADD-geared bent. “Ripper a.k.a. The Pillows” also foregoes a traditional development by searching for a more experimental improvisational zip code. “Stepper a.k.a. Work” focuses on a mundane riff arcing between percussion, looped layers, keyboards and the kitchen sink which reveal its true, divine essence after repeated visits to its addictive flowa river swimming backwards, east to west, drifting over the gravitational pull until it rushes past at a medium pace that is both alluring yet ever elusive.

Three exploratory songs on the album's second half are as vastly different from each other as the songs that proceeded. “Booom! (Money!)” is an 11-minute jam/mental breakdown/lyrically-obtuse number which initially focuses on a bass and drums-led riff before collapsing into an epic round of instrumental confusion seguing into artful free jazz before finally returning to the main bass/drums riff as the tape ends, terminating the song.

“The Masks” is seven minutes of elegant soulful beautythe most straightforward slice of ear-friendly clarity on an album filled with difficult yet terrific noise. The flow of the piece never drifts too far from home, and its home is a languid island in dreamy space. “Eleven (It’ll Rain!)” concludes the album with nine minutes of acoustic-based atmospheric tones that skirt the edge of weirdness before ending in a cantankerous mixture of Afro-Cuban beats and a chorus about the hazards of memory in daily life.

As if to sum up this entire workfour musicians willing to explore the outer edges of the sonic periphery without sacrificing wit or substance“Unrelentingness” rests betwixt the longer passages on side two of the album, and serves as a brief and twisted encapsulation of the entire work as it pulls percussion, chorus fragments, and an errant piano into a mix that also features bass and drums, and feedback fighting for a lucid voice in the crowd. This is a quirky track on a persnickety albumtough and lean, solid and bent.

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