Dalek/Haze XXL A Purge of Dissidents CD/DVD/Book review

Music Reviews
Dalek/Haze XXL A Purge of Dissidents CD/DVD/Book review
Jul 13, 2007, 06:30

DALEX/HAZE XXL A Purge of Dissidents CD/DVD/BOOK

Tom Hazelmyer's return to making music is hardly surprising. Granted, 16 years have passed since the founder of Amphetamine Reptile Records and former Halo of Flies frontman laid his guitar behind the back burner. He has a wife now, too, and three kids. In his spare time, he actively co-owns three bars. But Hazelmyer also boasts a Duchampian streak as wide as Nebraska, with all the attendant unpredictability.

A Purge of Dissidents was born on the dl, in 2005, when Hazelmyer approached Dalek (renowned visual artist James Marshall, not the brutal hip hop trio—also on Ipecac, but with an umlaut) about collaborating on a series of animated shorts. Dalek has a longer reach than Hazelmyer, and is possibly faster, but Hazelmyer owns a lot of guns, so Dalek assented. Plus, they'd been working together since 2003, even before the latter's work graced the first solo exhibition at the former's newly opened Ox-Op Gallery, which he killed in 2006 at the height of its popularity—to make time for making music—with a computer.

Confused yet? Good! You're not alone. Let's talk about APOD—the book, DVD, and compact disc package that Amazon listed under "rap” for a month. Wisely reasoning that he'd have to burn both ends of the 90's revival stick to light a proper path to the present, one-time para-grunge enabler Haze took laptop lessons from Mog Stunt Team and Princess Dragon Mom veteran Kenny Greenbaum, then convened with Greenbaum, Melvins' Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover, and the woefully underappreciated Grant Hart for a series of jam sessions. The players switched instruments constantly, to the extent that nobody remembers exactly who did what. That's what they claim in the 48-page, full-color, hardcover book, anyway.

Not that it matters: Hazelmyer used the recordings strictly as raw material, recombining wee chunks and adding additional sounds to build a thoroughly charming soundtrack for Dalek's Saturday morning snuff films. Mousey-looking, with size-mismatched ears and a single movie-camera eye, the artist's signature space monkeys live to kill one another, which, thanks to animator Jesse Olanday, they do very adroitly, with mallets, knives, and projectiles.

Just as Olanday favors smooth animation (no Scooby Doo here), Dalek likes his wounds symmetrical (think: perfect circles and beefy slits) and big enough to allow for rivers of escaping body fluids. Rooted in rock but unabashedly experimental, the accompanying music often offers a whiff of Osbourne and Crover's participation, as on lurcher “The Ascension Of The Antichrist.”  Same plus double for David Yow, Jon Spencer, and Craig Finn, each of whom have collaborated with Hazelmyer on recent 7” projects (out now on the newly reactivated AmRep).

The only vocalist who appears on both the DVD and the 30-track CD, Grant Hart doesn't sound like any of his previous selves: Imagine Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer Holly Johnson in his prime, only more soulful, trading licks with a little-girl anime chorus. But Haze's sick streak goes far beyond novel juxtapositions; he's an imaginative synthesist with a ferocious knack for nauseating electronics. He plays guitar quite a lot again, too—but no standard chords or solos this time, just well-conceived noises, often rising in response to some other instrument's call—pretty much the agenda he uses in the newly reformed Halo of Flies. But that's another story altogether, like the one about how Hazelmyer snipped off an exposed nerve on the tip of his left index finger a few years back with a pair of ordinary scissors. [Ipecac]

-Rod Smith

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